HHomeBackground Color:He
LiBeNeon Pictures PageBlack White GrayBCNOFNe
NaMgNeon Technical DataAlSiPSClAr
KCaNeon Isotope DataScTiVCrMnFeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr
RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAgCdInSnSbTeIXe
CsBaLaCePrNdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTmYbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTlPbBiPoAtRn
FrRaAcThPaUNpPuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRfDbSgBhHsMtDsRgCnUutUuqUupUuhUusUuo
Neon     

Neon

Atomic Weight 20.1797
Density 0.9 g/l[note]
Melting Point -248.59 °C
Boiling Point -246.08 °C
Full technical data

Neon signs really are made with neon, like this Ne-shaped tube filled with this inert gas. A high voltage transformer sends an electric current through the tube, creating a characteristic bright neon-red arc.

Scroll down to see examples of Neon.
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Neon Tiny neon bulb lit

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Tiny neon bulb lit.
This bulb was extracted from a 120V indicator lamp purchased at Radio Shack in May 2002.
Source: Radio Shack
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 29 April, 2009
Text Updated: 30 April, 2009
Price: $2
Size: 0.5"
Purity: >95%
Neon Neon fractal sculpture

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Neon fractal sculpture.
This beautiful 3D Hilbert fractal in neon was a gift from Richard Crandall, a long-time Mathematica user and Apple fellow who also has a business, Perfectly Scientific, which sells algorithms, lab equipment, and scientific art, including this lovely object.
Click the Source link to see two other variations of the 3D Hilbert space filling fractal.
Source: Perfectly Scientific
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 4"
Purity: 99%
Neon Museum-grade sample

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Museum-grade sample.
In early 2004 Max Whitby and I started selling individual element samples identical or similar to the samples we use in the museum displays we build. These are top-quality samples presented in attractive forms appropriate to the particular element. They are for sale from Max's website and also on eBay where you will find an ever-changing selection of samples (click the link to see the current listings).

This is a lovely hand-made discharge tube, powered by a small high-voltage transformer. The color is characteristic of the noble gas contained in the tube, and of course the shape spells the element's atomic symbol. In our large periodic table displays we use larger versions of these tubes: The ones photographed here are about 3" tall, but the other ones look basically identical, just bigger.

I chose this sample to represent its element in my Photographic Periodic Table Poster. The sample photograph includes text exactly as it appears in the poster, which you are encouraged to buy a copy of.
Periodic Table Poster

Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 18 April, 2005
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: See Listing
Size: 4"
Purity: >99%
Sample Group: RGB Samples
Neon Hollow cathode lamp

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Hollow cathode lamp.
Lamps like this are available for a very wide range of elements: Click the Sample Group link below to get a list of all the elements I have lamps like this for. They are used as light sources for atomic absorption spectrometers, which detect the presence of elements by seeing whether a sample absorbs the very specific wavelengths of light associated with the electronic transitions of the given element. The lamp uses an electric arc to stimulate the element it contains to emit its characteristic wavelengths of light: The same electronic transitions are responsible for emission and absorption, so the wavelengths are the same.
In theory, each different lamp should produce a different color of light characteristic of its element. Unfortunately, the lamps all use neon as a carrier gas: You generally have to have such a carrier gas present to maintain the electric arc. Neon emits a number of very strong orange-red lines that overwhelm the color of the specific element. In a spectrometer this is no problem because you just use a prism or diffraction grating to separate the light into a spectrum, then block out the neon lines. But it does mean that they all look pretty much the same color to the naked eye.
I've listed the price of all the lamps as $20, but that's really just a rough average: I paid varying amounts at various eBay auctions for these lamps, which list for a lot more from an instrument supplier.
(Truth in photography: These lamps all look alike. I have just duplicated a photo of one of them to use for all of them, because they really do look exactly the same regardless of what element is inside. The ones listed are all ones I actually have in the collection.)
Source: eBay seller heruur
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 December, 2003
Price: $20
Size: 8"
Purity: 99.9%
Sample Group: Atomic Emission Lamps
Neon Neon indicator light

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Neon indicator light.
This is a small hollow-cathode indicator light probably designed to run off 120VAC with a limiting resistor. If I find out the right value of resistor to use, I'll probably hook it up.
Source: eBay seller heruur
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 December, 2003
Price: $20/3
Size: 2"
Purity: >99%
Neon Sample from the Everest Set

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Sample from the Everest Set.
Up until the early 1990's a company in Russia sold a periodic table collection with element samples. At some point their American distributor sold off the remaining stock to a man who is now selling them on eBay. The samples (except gases) weigh about 0.25 grams each, and the whole set comes in a very nice wooden box with a printed periodic table in the lid.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description and information about how to buy one, or you can see photographs of all the samples from the set displayed on my website in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.

Source: Rob Accurso
Contributor: Rob Accurso
Acquired: 7 February, 2003
Text Updated: 20 November, 2008
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: >99%
Neon Sample from the RGB Set

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Sample from the RGB Set.
The Red Green and Blue company in England sells a very nice element collection in several versions. Max Whitby, the director of the company, very kindly donated a complete set to the periodic table table.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description or the company's website which includes many photographs and pricing details. I have two photographs of each sample from the set: One taken by me and one from the company. You can see photographs of all the samples displayed in a periodic table format: my pictures or their pictures. Or you can see both side-by-side with bigger pictures in numerical order.

The picture on the left was taken by me. Here is the company's version (there is some variation between sets, so the pictures sometimes show different variations of the samples):


Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 25 January, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: 99.9%
Neon Mounted arc tube

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Mounted arc tube.
In some ways, gases are a pain from a sample point of view. With the exception of chlorine and bromine they all look exactly the same: Like nothing at all. My beautiful set of noble gas flasks is beautiful because of the flasks, not what's in them, which is indistinguishable from plain air or vacuum. (So much so that I got them for a bargain price because the seller thought the were empty.)

But set up an electric current through almost any gas, and things are completely different. The current ionizes the gas, and when the electrons fall back into their orbits, they emit light of very specific frequencies. These spectral lines can easily be seen with even a very cheap pocket spectroscope, and they give the glowing tubes very unusual colors. So unusual in fact that they are basically impossible to photograph. The pictures here simply don't look at all like the real colors of these tubes, which cannot be represented by the limited red, green, and blue mixtures available in computer or printed photographs.

David Franco helped arrange these tubes, which were made by a guy who specializes in noble gas tubes and Geissler tubes (click the source link). I have tubes installed in each of the five stable noble gas spots in the table, hooked up underneath to a high voltage transformer. They are really quite beautiful. On my Noble Rack page I have all the pictures collected, along with pictures of arcs I made in my other collection of noble gas flasks.

Source: Special Effects Neon
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 22 November, 2002
Price: $35
Size: 2.5"
Purity: >90%
Neon Antique reagent flask

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Antique reagent flask.
I got a set of five different noble gas flasks on eBay for $13.50, which seemed like a good deal even though the seller described them as "probably empty". I very much doubt, however, that they are empty: At the bottom where the flask meets the tube, there is a tiny inner breakaway seal that is completely intact on all five of them. There's no visible way for the gas to have escaped. I've learned that one normally uses a steel ball, held up with a magnet, to break the seal: When you've hooked up and flushed out all the connecting tubes, you pull away the magnet and the ball drops onto the seal, breaking it and releasing the gas.
After many unworkable suggestions for proving whether the gases were still in there, several people came up with the idea of using a high voltage transformer, such as one finds in those now inexpensive plasma ball novelty lights, to try to set up an arc inside the flask, and identify the gas from the color of the discharge. Whether this is possible is sensitive to the pressure of the gas, which is not known.
Fortunately, it worked beautifully on three out of the five, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt that those three at least contain the gas claimed. The others almost certainly failed because the type and pressure of gas in them does not support an arc, not because they are empty. In fact, if they were empty, I would have gotten an arc, because the arc works through up to about half an inch of ordinary air.
You can see pictures of all the arcs along with a picture of the display stand I built for them (between 10PM and midnight of the evening they arrived) a using some of the same Carlson Maple used for the noble gas tiles on the table.
By the way, isn't it a cute oxymoron: Reagent-grade non-reactive gas.
Source: eBay seller tictoxx
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 August, 2002
Text Updated: 20 November, 2008
Price: $3
Size: 9"
Purity: 99.95%
Neon Tiny neon bulb

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Tiny neon bulb.
This bulb was extracted from a 120V indicator lamp purchased at Radio Shack in May 2002.
Source: Radio Shack
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 May, 2002
Price: $2
Size: 0.5"
Purity: >95%
Neon Nelium-neon laser pointer

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Nelium-neon laser pointer.
Sure, you've seen laser pointers before, what are they, maybe $3 at the corner gas station? But those are laser diode pointers, tiny solid state devices that run on a watch battery. This is something far more exotic, a relic of a time before the very existence of laser diodes. Gather 'round children and I will tell you a tale of those times.
Back in the stone age, I'm talking here about maybe 1990, lasers were big things made of glass tubes or ruby rods, fed by high voltage power supplies. There were definitively not things you held in your hand. Then one day I see this astounding device in a catalog for the bargain price of only about $300. Having no children or other responsibilities, it seemed like a reasonable thing to buy at the time, and I am now very glad that I did, because I cannot find any evidence of this product ever having existed, not even on eBay. But I have one, and it still works.
It is a hand-held helium neon gas discharge laser that runs on two 9V batteries, for about 15 minutes. What you're looking at is the laser tube in operation with the side cover taken off. Notice the bit of foam stuck between the battery and the circuit board with a round blue capacitor on it? I stuck that in there because otherwise the miniature high voltage power supply arcs over to the battery case.
You really need to watch the spin video of this sample (click the Spin link on the left) to see the tube from all directions: We shot the rotation with the device turned on, and when the laser beam points directly at the camera, it hits the CCD and creates a lovely diffraction pattern as it reflects back from the inside surfaces of the lens. (No, it didn't damage the CCD.)
One very interesting thing to note: The color of the glow you see inside the tube is different from the color of the light coming out of the laser end. The light coming out the end is the neon red emission line, while the color coming out the side of the tube is the helium lavender/pink glow. Think about it: This is a completely uniform, isotropic gas, yet it's glowing in two different colors depending on what direction you look at it from. How can this be? That is the magic of the laser: The cavity mirrors organize the light from the neon line and stimulate (the S in LASER) it to be emitted only in line with the beam. The helium emission occurs in all directions randomly.
I thought I had lost thing thin, and when it turned up in my office I was overjoyed, it is one of my favorite gadgets, quite a marvel of miniaturization even if it is a hundred times bigger and a hundred times more expensive than the current model.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 February, 2009
Text Updated: 1 March, 2009
Price: $300
Size: 6"
Composition: HeNe
Neon Photo Card Deck of the Elements

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Photo Card Deck of the Elements.
In late 2006 I published a photo periodic table and it's been selling well enough to encourage me to make new products. This one is a particularly neat one: A complete card deck of the elements with one big five-inch (12.7cm) square card for every element. If you like this site and all the pictures on it, you'll love this card deck. And of course if you're wondering what pays for all the pictures and the internet bandwidth to let you look at them, the answer is people buying my posters and cards decks. Hint hint.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 21 November, 2008
Price: $35
Size: 5"
Composition: HHeLiBeBCNOFNeNaMg AlSiPSClArKCaScTiVCrMn FeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAg CdInSnSbTeIXeCsBaLaCePr NdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTm YbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTl PbBiPoAtRnFrRaAcThPaUNp PuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRf DbSgBhHsMtDsRgUubUutUuq UupUuhUusUuo
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!