A gas, ionizable to produce a plasma, is introduced into a region defined within an ion source. An anode is disposed near one end of that region, and a cathode is located near the other. A potential is impressed between the anode and the cathode to produce electrons which flow generally in a direction from the cathode toward the anode and bombard the gas to create a plasma. A magnetic field is established within the region in a manner such that the field strength decreases in the direction from the anode to the cathode. The direction of the field is generally between the anode and the cathode. The electrons are produced independently of any ion bombardment of the cathode, the magnet is located outside the region on the other side of the anode and the gas is introduced uniformly across the region.