Chemical Element: neon

(Greek: neo, "new" or the "new one"; gas)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Ne
Atomic number: 10
Year discovered: 1898

Discovered by: William Ramsay (1852-1916), British chemist, and Morris William Travers (1872-1961), British chemist.

  • Neon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898 very shortly after their discovery of the element krypton.
  • Both elements were discovered through work on liquid air and a little later they discovered xenon using similar methods.
  • Neon is a very inert element and it forms an unstable hydrate.
  • In a vacuum discharge tube, neon glows reddish orange.
  • Of all the rare gases, the discharge of neon is the most intense at ordinary voltages and currents.
  • Liquid neon has over 40 times more refrigerating capacity than liquid helium and more than three times that of liquid hydrogen.
  • Neon is used in a variety of lamps and other electrical devices that take advantage of its unusually high electrical conductivity and light-emissive power.
  • Most gaseous conduction lamps and fluorescent lamps contain neon as a component of the gaseous mixture that carries electricity.
  • Beginning in 1910, the French chemist Georges Claude (1870-1960) showed that electric discharges through the noble gases could be made to produce light.
  • Most spectacular was the red light produced in this manner by neon, so that light produced this way by any gas came to be called “neon lights”.
  • The fact that tubes filled with neon, or other gases, could be twisted into any shape (so that they spelled out words, for instance) made it inevitable that they would replace ordinary incandescent bulbs in advertising signs.

Name in other languages:

French: néon

German: Neon

Italian: neo

Spanish: neón

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.