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What is neon?

8 minutes read

Neon lighting was first invented by Georges Claude, who showed his first neon sign at the Paris Exposition held in 1910. He sold the first neon advertising sign two years later in Paris. Georges Claude patented the neon lighting tube on Jan.19th, 1915. In 1923, Georges Claude and his French company sold two pieces of Neon gas signs to a Packard car dealer in Los Angeles.

Neon lights can create a party atmosphere. These work well for Halloween, New Year and glow stick parties. You can use neon lights at any party. We can use neon lights for business and domestic purposes. To make a neon light, you need glass tubes, gas, electrical voltage and heat. With the help of different gasses, you can create different colours. Neon gas produces a red colour. We can produce other colours with the help of other gasses like argon, mercury and phosphor.

What is neon?

A sealed glass tube with a rare gas inspired the neon sign. The direct predecessor of neon tube lights was the Moore tube. Moors used nitrogen or carbon dioxide as gas and a mechanism to maintain pressure. The discovery of neon in 1898 by British scientists William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers. Included the observation of bright red light in Geissler tubes. Travers wrote that "the red flame tells its own story, and it is a sight that you should never forget." After neon tubes were discovered, they were used for scientific and novel purposes. 

After 1902, Georges Claude's company Air Liquide, produced industrial quantities of neon. As a by-product of their air liquefaction business. In 1910, Claude showed two 12m bright crimson neon tubes at the Paris Motor Show. By 1913, a large sign of the Cinzano vermouth illuminated the night sky in Paris. By 1919 the Paris Opera has decorated the entrance with neon lights. In 1923, Georges Claude's company introduced neon gas signs to the United States. They sold two signs to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles.

Neon lights became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. The oldest neon sign in the United States is the "Theatre" sign at the Lake Worth Playhouse in Florida. The next innovation in neon lights was fluorescent tube coatings. Neon signs use an argon/mercury gas mixture that emits a lot of ultraviolet light. 

A fluorescent coating glows in colour when light is absorbed by it. There were 24 neon sign colours available in the 1960s. Today there are close to 100 available. 

The tubes were heated using burners for each bend. A thin layer of luminescent powder coated the inside of the tube. A high voltage is used to ionize the gas in a tube. A cold cathode was welded to the ends of the closed tube. The colour of the light coming from the tube can be light coming from the gas or light coming from the phosphor layer. 

Various sections of coated tubes can be welded together to form a single tube of different colours. This gives the effect of each letter being a different colour. Neon gas is the only gas used in commercial applications. Fill another inert gas, argon, and a drop of mercury after purification produces the most colour. Mercury vapour fills the tube and produces powerful ultraviolet light. 

Neon gas-filled transparent tubes produce a common yellow/orange colour. They are the cheapest and easiest to fabricate because the internal plasma is visible.


A cold cathode electrode is melted at each end of the tube as it ends. The hose is attached to a manifold, which is then attached to a high-quality vacuum pump. The tube is then vacuumed until it reaches a vacuum level of a few torrs. Then the vacuum is paused and a high current is forced through the low-pressure air in the tube through the electrodes. 

This current and voltage are much higher than what occurs during the last operation of the tube. The current depends on the specific electrodes used and the diameter of the tube. Between 150 mA to 1,500 mA, starting low and increasing towards the end. This process ensures the electrodes are well made. Heated without melting the glass tube.

The voltage during operation depends on the length and pressure of the tube. This chief power dissipation in the tube heats the glass walls to a few hundred degrees Celsius. The main purpose of this job is to clean the inside of the tube before the tube is sealed. During the oxidation process inside the sealed tube. The heat generated will ignite the metal cathode and mercury droplets. Causing the tube to fail instantly. Once these gases and impurities are released under bombardment before filling, the inside of the tube is pumped out.

How does a neon sign work?

Neon signs are being used where today. But have you ever wondered how the neon sign works? Neon is an inert gas that gives the sign its distinct brightness and colour. Scottish chemist William Ramsay discovered neon gas in 1898 with the help of the English scientist Morris Travers. The Geissler tube is considered the father of all neon signs. As used by scientists to study electrical discharges, we can credit Georges Claude with making a neon sign. He created a neon sign that is much like the neon sign that we know of today. He Passed a small amount of electric current through a combination of electric glasses that made discharges in different colours. Also, he discovered that the glass tubing that held the discharges, inert gas can be twisted into original positions. He made a sign out of this to show at the Paris exposition of 1910. Packard motors were the first company that saw the potential for this innovation. He was immediately signed on for thousands of dollars. The neon lights crossed over to the United States in the year of 1923. Through the years till 1950, neon lights grew in popularity. By the year 1950, neon lights were where. Places like New York Times Square and Las Vegas used neon lights for their decorations. Pubs, bars, and casinos started making use of neon lights. Soon they were available in e shapes and sizes. New and innovative ideas to use the neon lamp surfaced. Today, neon lights are an attractive way to advertise. These attract customers. A glass smith who will heat and bend the glass into the desired shape makes the glass casing. This is then filled in the case with the selected inert gas. A small electric discharge is passed through the gas so that the sign lights up. You can find such a sign right now. Personalised neon lights make the streets and shops in places today. You cannot think of nightlife without neon lights. It began as a simple study into the electrical discharge and today it has grown into a commercial business worth a million. You can even get custom neon signs today for your business. Signs are available online that you can choose from. If you don't find a signed meeting, send us an inquiry. We can customise your led neon sign and have it delivered to you at your place of business with your installation covered.

Variations Between Fluorescent Light and Neon Lights:

The primary use of lights is to spread brightness and remove the darkness. But have you ever thought the neon lights are far more exotic then fluorescent lights? Yes, there are components which make them differ from one another. And this article will explain the disparity i.e. variations between the two, and the chemical components used in both.

"Georges Claude invented the neon lamp in 1911"

Well, we all are aware of the fluorescent light because it serves as the main part which brings brightness to our living rooms, offices, restaurants and other places., neon lights are often seen in bars, also in restaurants used in advertising signs, for it lets out such brightness and is visible even in long distance.

Here comes the main factor which differentiates the two: a fluorescent light is a long, straight tube that generates white light and is used in stores and at homes., a neon light is a thing that produces exotic colours of light and they are of long and narrow glass tubes also it can be bent into many shapes. We see these lights in departmental stores and beer shops and pubs.

Though there are other features that differentiate the major difference between the two is the procurement price, operating cost and the standing cost.

Fluorescent light is used to bring brightness and does not require any special regulations, whereas we use a neon light for advertising as it attracts the customers and even draws unpremeditated consumers to the store. Spaced out from that, even neon signs are more beneficial to the business people.

Neon lights exude bright colours which include red, blue, green and other striking colours appealing to the eyes.

Neon lights and fluorescent tubes make use of low pressure, inert gas fills, but the major difference flanked by the fluorescent lights and the neon lights are how the light is discharged. In a fluorescent tube, the light is discharged into an in-house phosphor coating., in the neon tube, we send coloured light out from the neon atoms. Fluorescent uses two steps whereas neon uses a single step to discharge the light.

Though the ideas behind both the lights are simple, it is effective in return. The light discharged from the fluorescent tube is the light let out by the phosphor that covers the indoors of the tube. Neon lights: the interior part of the glass tube has gas like neon, argon or krypton at low pressure. There are metal electrodes at both the ends of the tube and when a high voltage is applied, the neon gas gets ionised and there is a flow of electrons through the gas. It is the electrons that incite the neon atoms and roots them to give off light which can be seen.


Fluorescent vs Neon Lights

As is known, neon light is the light used for advertising as they are colourful and can lure and arrest the attention of all the passers-by. We manufacture these neon signs using long, narrow glass tubes capable of being bent into different shapes to form eye-catchy designs and also the alphabets.

Fluorescent light is the light used in all commercial buildings, shopping centres and residences to create white. The fluorescent lights have utility value as they dispel darkness during the night. These are usually straight tubes and available in lengths of 60cm and 120cm and in diameters of 2.54cm.

Because of this, fluorescent light has a much wider range of applications and costs less. The neon lights are costlier and are used for decoration and publicity purposes.

The technology behind neon lights is nothing complicated. We fill the glass tube with gas like neon, argon or krypton at low pressure. These gases are neutral or negative, and they do not turn volatile when charged by an electrical current. We place metal electrodes at both ends of the tube. When a high voltage applies to the electrodes, the neon gas ionises and the electrons flow through the gas.

These electrons activate the neon atoms and trigger them to emit light. Neon emits red light while the other gases emit different colours. Argon, xenon, krypton and other types of gases are used in varying quantities to produce different colours. As a result, neon lights radiate bright red, blue, green and other eye-catchy colours.

The technology used for fluorescent lights is like neon lights, but inside a fluorescent light, low-pressure mercury vapour is introduced. The gas used in fluorescent lights has nil neon. It uses a combination of argon and a small amount of mercury to create energy. When ionised, the mercury vapour inside emits ultraviolet light.

The inner side of a fluorescent light is coated with phosphor, as phosphor can receive energy in one form and emit it back as visible light. Fluorescent lights consume a much greater electrical current, but they produce the bright illumination needed for different applications.

As stated, both neon tubes and fluorescent tubes, use low pressure, inert gas fill but the striking difference between fluorescent lights and neon lights is-the light from a fluorescent tube is the light emitted by the internal phosphor coating while the neon light is the coloured light that the neon atoms send out. We can say it that neon lights use only one step, whereas fluorescent lights use two steps to produce light.

it that Georges Claude, the French scientist, wanted neon to be implemented worldwide as a lighting system as he considered neon lights as a lot more efficient than an incandescent bulb. But that did not happen. And the fluorescent dominate the lighting industry and neon lights continue to be used for ornamental purposes

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