An Overview about the Chemical Element Neon


Symbol: Ne

Atomic Number: 10

Atomic Mass: 20.1797 amu (atomic mass units)

Melting Point: minus 248.6 C (24.549994 K, minus 415.48 F)

Boiling Point: minus 246.1 C (27.049994 K, minus 410.98 F)

Number of Protons: 10

Number of Electrons: 10

Number of Neutrons: 10

Classification: Noble Gas

Crystal Structure: Cubic

Density @ 293 K: 0.000901 grams per cubic centimeter

Color: colorless

The noble gas neon was discovered by the Scottish chemist Sir William Ramsay working with the English chemist Morris M. Travers in London, England. A few weeks earlier in the same year, 1898, they had discovered the noble gas krypton. Later that same year the pair of scientists would go onto discover a third such gas, xenon. All three gases were discovered by the evaporation of liquid air and the examination of the residue. The name neon comes from the Greek word “neos” which means new.

Neon is an extremely inert element having no known compounds. There is some evidence that it maybe able to form a compound with the element fluorine but this has not yet been confirmed.

Neon is the fourth most abundant element to be found in the universe but the earth’s atmosphere contains only 0.0018% neon.

In a vacuum discharge tube, neon gives a reddish orange glow. While all the noble gases seem to share the ability to glow under these conditions neon produces the most intense discharge at ordinary currents and voltages.

There are three naturally occurring stable isotopes of neon. The most common making up 90.48% of the total is neon-20. This is followed by neon-22 at 9.25% and neon-21 at 0.27%. Fifteen unstable isotopes of neon are known most of these have very short half lives measured in milliseconds or less. Of the unstable isotopes the longest half life is that of neon-24 at 3.38 minutes.

Neon is produced as a by-product from the separation of the more common gases in liquefied air. It has a number of industrial uses.

* The main use for neon is in the lighting of advertising signs

* It is used in the production of high voltage indicators, wave meter tubes, lightning arrestors and television tubes.

* Neon is used in conjunction with helium in the making of helium/neon lasers.

* Neon is an important and economical cryogenic refrigerant. It is compact and inert. As it has over 40 times the refrigerating capacity of liquid helium it is cheaper to use liquid neon rather than the more common liquid helium.