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Neon (pronounced /ˈniːɒn/) is the chemical element that has the symbol Ne and atomic number 10. A very common element in the universe, it is rare on Earth. A colorless, inert noble gas under standard conditions, neon gives a distinct reddish glow when used in vacuum discharge tubes and neon lamps. It is commercially extracted from air, in which it is found in trace amounts.
Neon (Greek νέον(neon) meaning "new one") was discovered in 1898 by Scottish chemist William Ramsay (1852 - 1916) and English chemist Morris W. Travers in London, England. Neon was discovered when Ramsay chilled a sample of the atmosphere until it became a liquid, then warmed the liquid and captured the gases as they boiled off. The three gases were krypton, xenon, and neon.
Neon has three stable isotopes: 20Ne (90.48%), 21Ne (0.27%) and 22Ne (9.25%). 21Ne and 22Ne are nucleogenic and their variations are well understood. In contrast, 20Ne is not known to be nucleogenic and the causes of its variation in the Earth have been hotly debated. The principal nuclear reactions which generate neon isotopes are neutron emission, alpha decay reactions on 24Mg and 25Mg, which produce 21Ne and 22Ne, respectively. The alpha particles are derived from uranium-series decay chains, while the neutrons are mostly produced by secondary reactions from alpha particles. The net result yields a trend towards lower 20Ne/22Ne and higher 21Ne/22Ne ratios observed in uranium-rich rocks such as granites. Isotopic analysis of exposed terrestrial rocks has demonstrated the cosmogenic production of 21Ne. This isotope is generated by spallation reactions on magnesium, sodium, silicon, and aluminium. By analyzing all three isotopes, the cosmogenic component can be resolved from magmatic neon and nucleogenic neon. This suggests that neon will be a useful tool in determining cosmic exposure ages of surficial rocks and meteorites.
Similar to xenon, neon content observed in samples of volcanic gases are enriched in 20Ne, as well as nucleogenic 21Ne, relative to 22Ne content. The neon isotopic content of these mantle-derived samples represent a non-atmospheric source of neon. The 20Ne-enriched components are attributed to exotic primordial rare gas components in the Earth, possibly representing solar neon. Elevated 20Ne abundances are found in diamonds, further suggesting a solar neon reservoir in the Earth.
Neon is the second-lightest noble gas, glows reddish-orange in a vacuum discharge tube and has over 40 times the refrigerating capacity of liquid helium and three times that of liquid hydrogen (on a per unit volume basis). In most applications it is a less expensive refrigerant than helium. Neon plasma has the most intense light discharge at normal voltages and currents of all the rare gases. The average color of this light to the human eye is red-orange; it contains a strong green line which is hidden, unless the visual components are dispersed by a spectroscope.
Neon is actually abundant on a universal scale: the fifth most abundant chemical element in the universe by mass, after hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and carbon (see chemical element). Its relative rarity on Earth, like that of helium, is due to its relative lightness and chemical inertness, both properties keeping it from being trapped in the condensing gas and dust clouds of the formation of smaller and warmer solid planets like Earth. Mass abundance in the universe is about 1 part in 750 and in the Sun and presumably in the proto-solar system nebula, about 1 part in 600. The Galileo spacecraft atmospheric entry probe found that even in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, neon is reduced by about a factor of 10, to 1 part in 6,000 by mass. This may indicate that even the ice-planetesmals which brought neon into Jupiter from the outer solar system, formed in a region which was too warm for them to have kept their neon (abundances of heavier inert gases on Jupiter are several times that found in the Sun).
Neon is a monatomic gas at standard conditions. Neon is rare on Earth, found in the Earth's atmosphere at 1 part in 65,000 (by volume) or 1 part in 83,000 by mass. It is industrially produced by cryogenic fractional distillation of liquefied air.
The reddish-orange color that neon emits in neon lights is widely used to make advertising signs and is used in long tubular strips in car modification. The word "neon" is used generically for these types of lights even though many other gases are used to produce different colors of light.
Neon may also be used in vacuum tubes, high-voltage indicators, lightning arrestors, wave meter tubes, television tubes, and helium-neon lasers. Liquefied neon is commercially used as a cryogenic refrigerant in applications not requiring the lower temperature range attainable with more expensive liquid helium refrigeration.
Neon is a noble gas, and therefore generally considered to be inert. However, the ions, Ne+, (NeAr)+, (NeH)+, and (HeNe+), have been observed from optical and mass spectrometric studies, and neon is also known to form an unstable hydrate.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Neon". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|