Sitting at the 10th position on the periodic table, Neon is a fascinating element with a number of fascinating characteristics and physical properties.
In this article on Neon facts we are going to learn about those characteristics and properties and of course, we will delve into its history and discovery as well. So, let us begin…
|Element Family||Noble Gas | Non-metal | Group 18|
|Melting Point||-248.57°C or 24.53 K|
|Boiling Point||-246.0°C or 27.1 K|
|Density at 20°C||0.0009 g/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||10|
|Number of Protons||10|
|Number of Neutrons (as found in most abundant isotope)||10|
|Known Isotopes||There are a total 19 isotopes of Neon while 3 are stable and 16 are radioactive.|
|Element Structure||Fcc or face-centered cubic|
|Hardness||Not applicable as it is a gas|
Isotopes of Neon
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life|
|16Ne||Radioactive||9 * 10-21 s|
|20Ne||Stable and 90.48% abundance||Stable, so no half-life|
|21Ne||Stable and 0.27% abundance||Stable, so no half-life|
|22Ne||Stable and 9.25% abundance||Stable, so no half-life|
|33Ne||Radioactive||< 180 ns|
|34Ne||Radioactive||> 60 ns|
Now that we are done with the basic information, let us learn about Neon facts that we promised.
Neon Facts: 1-5
1. The name of the element is derived from νέον – a Greek Work, which is read as neos. It means ‘New’.
2. Neon was first discovered in 1898 by two chemists named – William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They did this in the University College London.
3. Discovery of Neon was pretty interesting. In 1894, Ramsay had already found Argon along with Lord Rayleigh.
4. In 1895, Ramsay found the first sample of Helium in the world. Ramsay did know that there has to be an element right between Argon and Helium. However, he was unable to find it.
5. Ramsay found Helium in a radioactive mineral. So, he tried his luck in a similar path. He worked with several minerals for finding the missing element between Argon and Helium, but with no luck.
Neon Facts: 6-10
6. Ramsay, however knew it very well that sometimes one element could stay hidden behind another element. For instance, Berzelius who discovered Cerium from the mineral cerite had no idea that there was another element in the mineral.
7. Several years later, one of Berzelius’ former students known as Mosander found Lanthanum in cerite.
8. Equipped with this knowledge, Ramsay went back to his previous discovery – Argon. He took liquid air and froze Argon.
9. He then slowly evaporated the frozen Argon by reducing pressure. When evaporation began, the first gas that came off was captured.
10. Placing the gas in a vacuum tube, Ramsay applied high voltage. The idea was to find the spectrum of the gas. It is then that Ramsay noticed the bright red-orange color of Neon. That’s how Neon was discovered.
Neon Facts: 11-15
11. Talking of liquid Neon, it is an extremely efficient cryogenics or cryonics agent. In fact, compared to liquid Helium, liquid Neon is 40 times more effective.
12. Compared to liquid Hydrogen, liquid Neon is 3 times more effective when it comes to cryo-preservation.
13. Liquid Neon can be used for preserving dead bodies by freezing them so that the bodies can be potentially revived later in future.
14. One of the commonest applications of Neon is creation of Neon Signs. You have seen those glowing signs right? Those are called Neon Signs.
15. Neon (in low pressure) when subjected to high voltage, produces a bright red-orange glow. This property is used for creating Neon Signs. Only signs with bright red-orange color are made of pure Neon.
If you see other colors, that is because of other noble gases and not Neon. If signs are created using other noble gases, they aren’t Neon Signs technically but we still call them Neon Signs.
Neon Facts: 16-20
16. Only Neon light has the ability of passing through dense fog. Other lights will get obscured in fog but not Neon light. This is why it is heavily used by airports and aircraft that operate in cold regions where dense fog is a regular phenomenon.
17. There are many more applications of Neon. For instance, it is used in lightning arrestors, high-voltage indicators, vacuum tubes, television tubes, wave meter tubes, plasma tubes and even in helium-neon lasers.
18. 1902 is the year when Neon lighting was first produced by Georges Claude because he had excessive or surplus Neon in his company. His company was an air-liquefaction company.
19. Eight years later in 1910, Georges Claude thought of producing home lighting using Neon and vacuum tubes. However, the color was not acceptable by homeowners for the purpose of indoor lighting and hence, the idea failed miserably.
20. The first ever Neon light that went on display was in Paris. The date was December 11, 1910. This information comes from Neon Library. Neon Library is basically a website which is maintained by Skip DeBack – a Neon Artist. He also says that the first commercial sale of Neon light took place in 1912 and that the purchaser was a barber.
Neon Facts: 21-25
21. How abundant is Neon? The answer to this question is very confusing. Neon is considered both Abundant and Rare. In the atmosphere of our Earth, Neon is a rare element, and hence, called Rare Gas. Only 0.0018% of our atmosphere is Neon.
22. When we look into the rest of the Universe, Neon is pretty abundant. As a matter of fact, Neon is the 5th most abundant element in our universe. The four most abundant elements in order are:
23. Abundance of Neon in Earth’s crust is 5 parts per billion in terms of weight. In terms of moles it is again 5 parts per billion.
24. Abundance of Neon in our Solar System is 1,000 parts per million in terms of weight. In terms of moles, it is 70 parts per million.
25. Obtaining Neon is very difficult. The method used is called fractional distillation of liquid air. Yes, Neon can be commercially produced only and only from air using the process mentioned.
Neon Facts: 26-30
26. Neon and stars have a history of billions of years together. Yes, Neon is created inside stars. The question is, which stars produce Neon?
27. Any star that has mass equivalent to 8 times the mass of our very own Sun will produce Neon.
28. Here is something interesting. The element is not always produced. Only during the alpha process, the element is produced.
29. Wonder what an alpha process of a star is? It is basically a process within the star when Oxygen and Helium fuse together through nuclear fusion reaction inside a star. Neon is produced only during this particular process.
30. Stars don’t have electric currents, and hence, the Neon produced inside the stars do not glow in bright red-orange color. This is why, even if you look up to a clear night sky and witness millions of stars, you won’t be able to see Neon shining down on you.
Neon Facts: 31-35
31. Is Neon toxic? No, not at all. Neon is not toxic. However, it doesn’t mean that the gas cannot harm you.
32. Neon is an inert gas and a noble gas. These gases are known as asphyxiation gases. Neon can asphyxiate you.
33. When you inhale Neon in significant quantities, the gas will slowly replace the Oxygen in your blood. As Oxygen levels deplete, you will gradually suffocate. Excessive inhalation of Neon can lead to death by asphyxiation.
34. Another threat from Neon comes in the form of frostbite. Yes, Neon can give you frostbites, but only in its liquid form. The liquid Neon is extremely cold, colorless and odorless. If your skin comes in contact with liquid Neon, you can get serious frostbites.
35. The container holding liquid Neon can violently rupture if it is exposed to heat or fire for a prolonged period of time. That kind of violent rupturing is seriously dangerous.
Neon Facts: 36-40
36. In order to obtain Neon, we first need to cool down the air until it becomes liquid.
37. The liquid air is then allowed to gradually warm up. As that happens, different elements gradually convert back into gas at different temperatures. The portion of the liquid air that converts into gas at the temperature of -246.0°C is the Neon gas.
38. Neon is highly expensive. Since Neon is rare on Earth, the extracted neon is 55 times far more expensive than liquid helium.
39. Despite the fact that Neon is very rare on Earth, you can still obtain about 10 liters of Neon if you can manage to extract all the air from a new house in the USA and use it to extract Neon. In general, out of 54,900 liters of dry air, only 1 liter is Neon.
40. As far as price is concerned, 100 grams of pure Neon will cost around USD 33.
Neon Facts: 41-45
41. It was in 1855 when the first precursor of Neon Light was invented. The person who did this was Heinrich Geissler. He was a German physicist. He experimented with various gases for example mercury vapor.
42. He inserted the gases into a vacuum tube and passed electricity through the same to produce glows. Geissler did this before Neon was isolated.
43. But do you know how Neon Signs work? In those signs, you will see glass tubes. These glass tubes are filled with Neon. Each tube has electrode attached to it at one end. Alternating Current (invented by Nikola Tesla) is passed through those electrodes at a rate of 50 cycles per second.
44. The current alternates between positive and negative electrodes. These tubes are known to have free electrons that are negatively charged. Because of the current, the negatively charged electrons get attracted to the positively charged electrode.
45. In this process, the electrons bombard into Neon molecules and knock off more electrons. As the molecules lose electrons, they become positively charged and try to grab back electrons to become neutral. In this process, the molecules give of light that we see as Neon Light.
Neon Facts: 46-50
46. Neon Signs can last for about 20 years at a stretch. This is possible because the element (Neon) is inert and will not react with anything else to form a different compound. However, the Neon tube should be very well-processed.
47. Neon is a loner! We seriously mean that. It is an inert gas and will not combine with any other element to form a compound. There are no known compound of Neon.
48. Neon is a monoatomic gas, and hence, it is lighter than air (which primarily consists of Nitrogen). This is why, a balloon filled with Neon will rise up into the sky. However, Helium balloons will rise faster because Helium is lighter than Neon.
49. Did you know that Neon is sometimes available in diamonds and some volcanic vents?
50. Finally, it was not Ramsay (one who discovered Neon) who named the gas. The name was actually suggested by his son.