Why is neon important

The only remembrances of Neon to the technically ill endowed person are that it is represented by the symbol Ne, and is an inert gas. More stress on the mind results in the coming to mind of the fact that an inert gas does not react with anything. Though ‘no reactions’ does not seem to suggest any utility of the gas, the reality is in stark contrast to the assumption!

Neon is ranked fifth in the list of universally abundant chemicals. When present in the gaseous state, Neon is colourless. It has as many as twelve unstable radio-active isotopic forms of existence. Though most inert gases do not exhibit any such property, Neon emits electrical discharges even at normal voltage and current levels. Neon gas when stored in a tube under low pressure and treated with some electricity gives off a brilliant shade of orange and red. This peculiar property of the gas has resulted in its widespread usage in fluorescent lamps and many other light based types of equipment. The neon signs that light up the night and serve as the most glamorous contemporary advertising products are a direct result of Neon.

Neon lights have become a favourite for indoor lighting in lounges, bars and modern apartments. This is because a good number of brilliant shades can be obtained by addition of trace impurities to Neon. For instance, addition of a bit of mercury makes Neon emit a pleasant blue shade that has become the hot favourite of swanky bars the world over. Another particularly important use of Neon is in aircraft light systems as it can penetrate the cloud covers and swirling fogs to enable visibility. Countries suffering from foggy weather also make extensive use of Neon lights to illuminate the roads and highways.

Advanced chemistry talks about the potential of Neon as a refrigerant with per unit volume refrigerating capability almost forty times as that of liquid Helium. Optical communication departments also make use of Neon in the form of the popular Helium Neon lasers as optical sources to feed the optical cables with coherent rays.