HOW A NEON TUBE WORKS

Cosmos - - Cosmos Science Club -

A neon light is a sealed tube filled with low-pres­sure neon gas. At one end of the tube there is an elec­tri­cal sup­ply com­ing from the neg­a­tive ‘cath­ode’ (-), and at the other end there is a pos­i­tive ‘an­ode’ (+). The elec­tri­cal sup­ply sends elec­trons from the cath­ode (-) to the an­ode (+), while the neon atoms move ran­domly in the tube. All these in­ter­ac­tions lead to the ex­pul­sion of coloured pho­tons from the neon ions and atoms, cre­at­ing the distinc­tive red- or­ange glow of the neon light. Dif­fer­ent ‘neon light’ colours are not ac­tu­ally caused by neon but come from other no­ble gases. Helium glows pink-yel­low, ar­gon laven­der blue, kryp­ton green and xenon light blue- green.

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