Hello Lightning Tamers!
Podcast episode are long in between, to fill that time between each release, I've started to approach a list of question I've been asked, or have for myself to help us learn aobut Plasma/Neon. So one of the basic things we will look at in today's post are the colors produced by individual gases used in both Neon and Plasma.
There are three ways to augment color in Neon and plasma:
1. The colors prodcued by the gas and it it's mixtures
2. The color of the glass used
3. The use of phosphorescent pigments, that illuminate by UV produced by the ionized gases.
Neon and Plasma Tubes and Sculptres are essentially gas filled vessels that are excited into an ionized state through high voltage electricity.
Traditional neon, that is light work typical in neon signs will often use Neon, Argon, and mercury.
Plasma Neon or Plasma Light, which can be tubing or free form blown glass, will often use krypton and xenon as part of it's mixture to give you the plasma globe visuals, with a comibination of other gases including Neon, Argon, Nitrogen, and Helium.
These Gases make up less than 1% of the air in our atmosphere with Nitrogen making up 78% and Oxygen 21% .
Refere to my post FAQS: Where do these gases come from? which includes a link on the idea that Xenon gases come from coments, and video on how these gases are seperated from the air we breathe.
Almost forgot the include some videos from my friend Carl Willis. Carl is a Nuclear Engineer, and Health Physist, who is someone who applies the physics of radiation protection for health and and health care purposes, but also a dabbler and maker of plasma tubes. Be on the look out for Carl Willis as guest on a future podcast!
Carl has a few videos on his youtube channel, they are very informational, and explains the content in his video clearly and in a way to easily digest what he's talking about. Enjoy!
In this video he talks about using Neon gas in a discharge tube, with other gas mixtures.
This video he talks about Kypton and gas mixtures using a iodine as a dopant, and how it is different than Xenon. I hope to cover more on that later, most addative can be dangerous to your health or damaging to your equipment if not handled with the utmost safety and care.
Feel free to send your questions to this email, as well as share and comment!
Percy Echols II
Sorcerer Apprentice ⚡
Thank you for supporting Taming Lightning! I'm writing everyone to let you know that I appreciate your support. Having the opportunity to meet most you, I've keep that in mind as I make progress in the podcast, and knowledge.
There's been a delay on the release on the first Podcast, I've had to reschedule my talk with our guest several times. The topic we will cover is the difference between Traditional Neon, and Plasma. It's good topic to start us out on, to get everyone on the same page.
Today I would like to also share with you an article about the Noble Gas Xenon below:
One of the frequently asked questions I get is “where do these gases come from?”
A simple answer would be from the air in Earth’s Atmosphere. For a more indebt answer I’ll consult Neon Techniques 4th Edition by Wayne Strattman.
The air that we breath contains many different gases in various amounts. Pure air, that is, without water, carbon dioxide, and dust contains primarily seven gases: 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 0.9% Argon, 0.001% Neon, with the following being in quantities less than 0.001% Helium, Krypton, and Xenon.
The final five gases are what we are mostly concerned with, and they are often called Noble, rare, or inert gases. If you reference back to your High School chemistry class you will be familiar with Noble Gases on the far right of the Periodic Table of Elements. The term Noble Gas refers to gases that are colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-flammable. They are Noble in the sense that they are very stable (chemistry: stability is due to having the maximum number of valence electrons in their outer shell can hold), meaning they do not react with other elements. Therefore, the term “Inert Gases” isn’t such an accurate term as it states that they cannot react. While they do not react naturally, they can under intervention by scientists and researchers. You may also hear them called Rare Gases, which is also misleading. While they are in much smaller quantities compared to nitrogen and oxygen, they are quite abundant. It would be like the comparison of finding water in cacti or small oasis in the desert, then rarity in terms of finality.
Initially It was expensive and impossible to be economical and commercially available for use , until 1907 when French Scientist George Claude perfected a process for obtaining these gases cheaply which he developed with the German scientist, Carl Paul Gottfried Linde, through the process of making liquid air.
Liquefaction of Air is the processes of air becoming a liquid by cooling, similar to condensation on cool glass. Liquid Air at a temperature of -196℃ (-371℉) contains primarily liquid nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. These three liquids have different boiling points (points at which go from liquid to gas). When the oxygen is allowed to boil, argon and nitrogen remain. Then the nitrogen is removed by chemical means, leaving pure argon. This same process is applied for separation of the other gases. Gases like Helium are obtained much more cheaply from natural gas deposits, where the mix is much greater in concentration.
 Wayne Strattman, Neon techniques: handbook of neon sign and cold cathode lighting, 4th ed. (Cincinnati, OH: ST Media Group, 2003), 18.
 Ibid 19
 Ibid 20
Check out the youtube video below for further visual explanation of the process:
Feel free to send your questions to this email, share, and comment!
Percy Echols II
Image: Return to Hieroglyphs by James Akers
Taming Lightning is an educational blog and podcast about the art, Science, and History of Plasma and Neon Light through interviews, discussions, and collaborations with Artists, Makers, and Researchers.