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Science Innovation Centre · 054 · Xenon

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Xenon is a rare, odourless, colourless, tasteless, chemically unreactive gas. It was regarded as completely inert until, in 1962, Neil Barlett reported synthesis of xenon haxafluoroplatinate. In a gas filled tube xenon emits blue light when excited by electrical discharge.

Xenon has relatively little commercial use. It is used in photographic flash lamps, stroboscopic lamps, high-intensive arc-lamps for motion picture projection and high-pressure arc lamps to product ultraviolet light (solar simulators). Other uses are as general anaesthetic, xenon ‘blue’ headlights and fog lights are used on some vehicles and are said to be less tiring on the eyes. They illuminate road signs and markings better than conventional lights.