The most common use of the gas is in neon signs, which have a century-long history. First developed by French engineer Georges Claude in 1902, neon lights create light by applying electricity to neon or argon in a sealed glass tube. Argon makes blue light, and neon makes the clear orange-red that is familiar in neon signs, said Bill Concannon, a neon-sign artist and owner of Aargon Neon, a sign shop in Crockett, California.
Other colors are created by using a variety of other gases, such as argon, mercury, helium, krypton and xenon, according to the Edison Tech Center. Today, the majority of the lights you see in many places, such as on the Las Vegas strip, are made from mercury and argon and colored with phosphors.
Neon lights, also known as cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), work when electrodes on each end of a vacuum tube filled with neon or other fluorescing gas are subjected to an alternating current, according to the Edison Tech Center. The current ionizes the atoms causing the tube to be filled with free electrons. As the ionized atoms recapture their electrons to become neutral, visible light is released which gives the CCFL signs their colored glow.
Images of Neon Signs, fixtures and other objects are the focus of this group. (As you see in the description above, many of today's colorful lights are made from mercury and argon with colors from phosphors.)
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