neon (nēˈŏn) [key] [Gr., = new], gaseous chemical element; symbol Ne; at. no. 10; at. wt. 20.1797; m.p. - 248.67°C; b.p. - 246.048°C; density 0.8999 grams per liter at STP; valence 0. Neon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is one of the inert gases in Group 18 of the periodic table; it does not form compounds in the normal chemical sense. A small amount of neon in a partially evacuated glass tube emits a bright reddish-orange glow while conducting electricity. Neon is a rare gas present in the atmosphere to a very limited extent. It is obtained as a byproduct in the production of liquid air. The greatest commercial use of neon is in advertising signs (see lighting). It is also used in high-intensity beacons, in some electron tubes, in Geiger counters, in automotive ignition timing lights, and in high-voltage warning indicators. It is used for particle detection in high-energy physics research. Neon finds use in lasers both as a light-emitting agent and as a coolant. Liquid neon is a particularly good cryogenic refrigerant since it will absorb more heat without vaporizing than an equal volume of liquid helium or liquid hydrogen. Neon was discovered in 1898 by William Ramsay and M. W. Travers.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.