Background Information

Neon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay in the late 19th century. It is name from the Greek word for “new”. Neon is a non-reactive monatomic gas under natural conditions and is well known for its properties to do with emission of red light.

Neon was discovered when Ramsay chilled a sample of air until it became a liquid, then warmed the liquid and captured the gases as they boiled off. The gases nitrogen, oxygen, and argon had been identified, but the remaining gases were isolated in roughly their order of abundance, in a six-week period beginning at the end of May 1898. First to be identified was krypton. The next, after krypton had been removed, was a gas which gave a brilliant red light under spectroscopic discharge. This gas, identified in June, was named neon, the Greek analogue of “novum”, (new), and the name Ramsay’s son suggested.

How is it used in everyday life?

Neon is most often used in illuminated signage such as those seen in the Las Vegas strip. This is due to a property which makes Neon glow red when electrically excited. Neon does not have a lot of other applications besides this property and it is also extremely expensive to purchase.