Fun Facts about Neon

The element Neon is in Group 18 on the Periodic Table of the Elements and is a Noble gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. Neon, whose symbol is Ne, has a complete set of electrons in its outer ring, eight to be exact, and is therefore chemically inert and thus far has never reacted with any other element or compound. Most commonly used in lighting, neon is also used in high-voltage warning indicators, Geiger counters, television tubes, and in lasers.


William Ramsay and Morris Travers discovered neon in 1898 using a process known as spectroscopy. While studying the elements that make up air, it was determined that nitrogen, oxygen and argon account for 99.966 percent of air. Ramsay and Travers spent two years working to discover the unknown elements of air, and were finally successful. Spectroscopy analyzes the light produced when an element is heated, and each element gives off a unique spectrum. After heating a small sample of air after removing oxygen, nitrogen and argon, the scientists saw patterns of spectral lines that had never been seen before! They named in neon based on the Greek word for new, neos.


Neon is most often used in lighting, sometimes in great abundance as exemplified in Las Vegas. Neon lighting consists of a glass tube that is filled with neon or a combination of inert gases. Neon gives off a reddish-orange color, and different combinations of inert gasses give off different colors of light. When an electric current is passed through the tube, the atoms break apart and then quickly recombine. When they recombine, light is given off. A process known as fractional distillation is used to extract the gas. In this process a container of air is changed to liquid and then allowed to warm up. Each element completes a phase change at a different temperature and the portion that turns back into a gas at -410.66ºF is neon.

Interesting Neon Facts

1. Neon is an inert gas and will not react with any other element or compound.

2. The gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

3. Neon is found in the atmosphere at approximately 18.2 parts per million.

4. Neon is the second-lightest of the noble gases after Helium.

5. Although very rare in the atmosphere, Neon is the fifth most abundant element in the universe.

6. Neon forms in stars when they reach a mass equivalent to eight of more of our suns.

7. If you could gather all the neon from all of the rooms in an average new house in the U.S., you would get two gallons.

8. Liquid neon is used as a cryogenic refrigerant.

9. Neon changes from a gas to a liquid at -410.66ºF, and from a liquid to a solid at

10. Neon is non-toxic and has no known health effects of negative environmental impacts.

11. Neon is rare on Earth due to its lightness, high vapor pressure at low temperatures and chemical inertness. These properties make it escape being trapped in condensing gas and dust clouds during planet formation.

12. A Parisian barber used the first neon sign in 1912.