This inside view of the Mercury Plastics NeoBeam facility, located in Ohio, was created by Andrew Seltzman, who is pursuing a PhD in plasma physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and posts videos of his experiments on his YouTube channel.
Over email, Seltzman told me he was inspired to conduct the experiment by a friend’s research into “lichtenberg figures,” also known as “captured lightning,” which are plastic blocks decorated by the fallout of electron irradiation.
Electron beams are pretty much exactly what they sound like—machines that shoot streams of high-velocity electrons at objects to irradiate them. There are many different reasons someone would want to do this. The facility in this video is normally used to cross-link polymers to create stronger plastic compounds, but electron beams are also employed to sterilize equipment or test out nanotech capabilities, among other applications.