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Science Innovation Centre · 010 · Neon

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Neon was discovered by William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898.

Neon is the second-lightest noble gas, its colour is reddish-orange in a vacuum discharge tube and in neon lamps. The refrigerating capacity of helium is over 40 times the one of liquid helium and three times that of liquid hydrogen (on a per unit volume basis). It is a less expensive refrigerant than helium in most applications.

Even though neon is for most practical purposes an inert element, it can form an exotic compound with fluorine in the laboratory. It is not known for certain if this or any neon compound exists naturally but some evidence suggests that this may be true. The ions, Ne+, (NeAr)+, (NeH)+, and (HeNe+) are have also been observed from optical and mass spectrometric research. In addition, neon forms an unstable hydrate.

The reddish-orange colour emitted in neon lights is widely used to make advertising signs. Neon is also used generically for these types of lights when in reality many other gases are used to produce different colours of light. Other uses of neon include high-voltage indicators, lightning arrestors, wave meter tubes and television tubes. Neon and helium are used to make a type of gas laser.

Liquefied neon is commercially used as an economical cryogenic refrigerant.