Common Gases Used to Make Neon Signs

Common Gases Used to Make Neon Signs

Using neon signs can be a great way to promote any business. For instance, the vivid colors produced by neon beer signs have a huge potential of attracting customers to entertainment joints. This is why they can be spotted in every corner of the city. Amazingly, not many people know what a neon sign is or the source of their vibrant colors. Typically, a neon light is a sturdy glass tube filled with neon gas. When electric current passes through the gas-filled tube, the gas glows producing the light we see in neon signs.

It is confusing that neon produces only a red glow and yet the variety of colors seen in the signs is astonishing. So what is the source of the different colors in neon signs? The other colors are achieved by mixing neon with other gases or filling the tube with any of the noble gases that include argon, helium, xenon and krypton. Generally, noble gases are known to be chemically unreactive. However, each gas has different characteristics that are responsible for their diverse colors.



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Neon is the most prevalent gas used to manufacture lighting tubes. It basically emits a red glow but it produces a multitude of colors when combined with other gases. Neon naturally occurs in air though in small amounts. The process of extracting this rare gas is simple and inexpensive. Only small traces of neon is required in making a neon light. Another important attribute of neon is its level of power consumption. Unlike other gases, neon uses low voltage and yet it is capable of emitting a substantial amount of light.

Argon occupies a large proportion of the air we breathe. It is usually supplemented with mercury in order to be effective in producing a vivid blue color. Its capacity to produce different colors is further enhanced by lining the inside of the glass with ultraviolet-sensitive phosphors. A mixture of mercury and argon produces ultraviolet light that causes the phosphors to glow.

Xenon is commonly used in strobe lights and photography, mostly because it produces a deep lavender glow. However, the combination of Xenon and other noble gases produces a wide variety of colors that make xenon suitable for producing different kinds of neon signs.

This is one of the gases that are rarely found. It is only obtained from natural gas or radioactive decay. Helium produces pink red color in neon signs and can be used to speed up heating of lamps.

Krypton produces a whitish-yellow glow, a characteristic that makes it to be used in producing a wide array of colors. A common application of krypton is in the manufacture of airport lights.



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