From the Greek word neos, new. Discovered by Ramsay and Travers in 1898. Neon is a rare gaseous element present in the atmosphere to the extent of 1 part in 65,000 of air. It is obtained by liquefaction of air and separated from the other gases by fractional distillation.
Neon is a very inert element, however, it has been reported to form a compound with fluorine. It is still questionable if true compounds of neon exist, but evidence is mounting in favor of their existence. The ions, Ne+, (NeAr)+, (NeH)+, and (HeNe+) are known from optical and mass spectrometric studies. Neon also forms an unstable hydrate.
Although neon advertising signs account for the bulk of its use, neon also functions in high-voltage indicators, lightning arrestors, wave meter tubes, and TV tubes. Neon and helium are used in making gas lasers. Liquid neon is now commercially available and is finding important application as an economical cryogenic refrigerant.
Natural neon is a mixture of three isotopes. Six other unstable isotopes are known.