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Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Does a Neon Light Work?

How Does a Neon Light Work?

Neon lights contain a special kind of gas that glows when you turn on the electricity. The word Neon finds its origin from the word neos, which means new gas. Neon is actually an inert gas just like helium and argon that provides a distinct color and brightness.

A Scottish chemist William Ramsay along with Morris Travers first discovered neon gas in the year 1898. This gas is found naturally in our atmosphere, but in minute quantities.

The first tube made was known as the Geissler tube. This tube was made for scientific purpose only. The scientists used this tube to study the electrical discharges of different substances.

George Claude was the first person to make a neon sign. He combined electric gasses and passed a small amount of electric current through them and it made discharges in different colors.

He then realized that glass tubing that held the neo gas can be twisted in different positions. He made a sign to showcase in the Paris exposition that was held in the year 1910.

Packard motors loved Claude’s idea and immediately signed him on for thousands of dollars. This was the beginning of neon signs.

Neon signs are made of long glass tubes shaped into words and designs. The tubes are filled with a small amount of neon gas. When an electric current is sent through the tube, it stimulates atoms present in the neon molecules.

Electrons are then released into the gas. The ions and electrons spread throughout the neon carrying charge from one end of the tube to another thereby lighting the entire tube, and the colorless gas glows with a bright orange-red light.

Other gases are used in place of neon to make the blue, yellow, and green lights on the advertising signs we can still see on many drive-ins, pizza stands and stores. Today neon is being replaced by cool, neat, lighted-plastic signs.

Content for this question contributed by Tom Lynch, resident of Coxsackie, Greene County, New York, USA