Neon was discovered by British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers in 1898. The pair were studying liquid air by chilling a sample of air until it became a liquid, then warming the liquid up and collecting the gases as they boiled off. Neon was the second of three new gases to be discovered by the pair the first being krypton and the third xenon.
Neon is the fifth most abundant chemical element in the universe after hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and carbon. It is however, a rare gas in Earth's atmosphere, making up just 0.0018%.
- Neon gas emits a brilliant red-orange color when charged with electricity.
In 1902, a French engineer Georges Claude began creating neon lighting with the surplus neon leftover from his air liquefaction company. He tried using neon tubes for indoor lighting, but the color put homeowners off. So instead, in 1912, his company began selling neon discharge tubes as advertising signs.
Today, neon has uses in vacuum tubes, high-voltage indicators, lightning arrestors, wave meter tubes, television tubes, plasma tubes and helium-neon lasers.
Because neon is quite rare in our atmosphere both neon gas and liquid neon are relatively expensive costing more than 55 times that of liquid helium.
If a balloon is filled with neon it will rise in the air but do so at a much slower rate than a balloon filled with helium.