Neon signs are an iconic Vegas look. I got some cool pictures last night.
Neon the element, (number 10) is a noble gas and was discovered in 1898 by British scientists Ramsay and Travers. They used an electrical gas-discharge tube to explore it and discovered that the gas would glow a brilliant crimson light.
And thus neon lights were born!
Elemental neon is only used for colors like orange and red. For other colors, other noble gases like helium, argon, and xenon are used.
Good thing we discussed noble gases on Wednesday! Let's move onto the whys and hows of neon signs.
Neon signs are made of glass tubes, bent into intricate shapes. These tubes are filled with your inert gas of choice and sometimes coated in an additional fluorescent or phosphorescent coating to create additional colors.
The key though, are the electrodes added at each end. In order to make the signs light up, you apply an electric current to ionize your gas.
I have mentioned that noble gases do not like to lose electrons. However, if enough energy is applied, you can do pretty much anything, including, plucking an electron from the outmost shell of a noble gas.
By applying your electric current of about several thousand volts, you can remove an electron from your noble gas, thereby ionizing it. You create an ion - the free electron.
This abundance of free electrons is called a plasma, and this plasma completes your electrical circuit.
Before too long, your electron will lose energy, and it will return to a valence shell. It releases energy via a packet of light known as a photon, and this is the light we observe. WAVE PARTICLE DUALITY! IT IS BACK
This process is repeated over and over amongst many, many electrons and noble gas atoms. The light won't dim until the electricity is removed, giving us a cool piece of art to look at.
It should be noted that this process, while similar sounding to fluorescence, is not considered fluorescence.
#everydayscience #chemistry #noblegases #neon #neonsigns #lasvegas #vivalasvegas #scicomm #waveparticleduality #ionization