A short write-up on the physical and chemical properties of neon gas which form the basis of its use in various fields of human interest, and make it an apt constituent of neon signs, helium-neon lasers, etc.
As you drive along the 4.2 mile long Las Vegas Strip, you can’t help but, get mesmerized by all those neon signs that you get to see on either side. While everyone finds these advertising signs appealing, only a few actually know that these signs are referred to as neon signs. The reddish-orange glow that these signs emit is attributed to the presence of neon gas in them, and hence they are referred to as neon signs.
Basically, neon gas is one of the six noble gases featuring in the periodic table, while the other five happen to be helium, argon, krypton, xenon and radon. All these gases come together to form Group 18 of the periodic table. Even though the uses of neon gas are less as compared to those of the other gases in the periodic table, it is no doubt one of the most popular gases of this group.
Neon Properties and Uses
Even though neon is found in abundance in the universe, it is relatively rare when it comes to the Earth’s atmosphere. This noble gas is commercially extracted from the air in which it is found in trace amounts on the planet. Since its discovery, which can be traced back to 1898 – when the duo of British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers discovered it, we have successfully come up with several uses of neon gas in various field. Other than neon signs, the gas is also widely used in television tubes, high-voltage indicators, vacuum tubes, helium-neon lasers, etc. In fact, neon – in its liquefied form, is a popular cryogenic refrigerant. Given below are neon element facts – with special emphasis on its properties, which will shed some light on its importance in various fields.
Neon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas – with symbol Ne and atomic number 10, which is found in trace amounts in the atmosphere of the Earth. It is typically characterized by its amazing ability of emitting a distinct reddish-orange glow as a result of which it is widely used in production of advertising signs. It is the second lightest noble gas of the lot, with only helium boasting of being lighter than it. At room temperature, neon is found in a gaseous state. It has a density of 0.9002 g/L, as a result of which a 1 liter bottle full of neon gas will weigh less than 1 gram. The melting point for neon is 24.56 K ( which amounts to -415.46°F), while its boiling point is 27.07 K (which amounts to -410.94°F). The refrigerating capacity exceeds that of liquid helium by 40 times, and that explains its application as a cryogenic refrigerant.
It was initially believed that neon was an inert gas i.e. chemically inactive in nature. However, recent studies have revealed that it does combine with fluorine to form a new compound. Similarly, it also has the tendency of forming ions by combining with other noble gases. These include Ne+, (NeAr)+, (NeH)+, and (HeNe+). Neon gas also has the ability of forming unstable hydrates. All these chemical properties of neon hint at the fact that neon is not quite an inert gas as it was initially believed to be.
All these properties make neon one of the most important noble gas in the periodic table. Even though it is the fifth most abundant chemical element in the universe, it happens to be one of the rarest element on the Earth with an atmospheric concentration of 1 part in 65,000 (by volume). This rare nature of neon gas is also attributed to its physical and chemical properties, as this gas escaped the Earth’s atmosphere because of its relative lightness and inert nature instead of being trapped in the condensing gas and dust clouds during the formation of the planet.