Neon Lights - History of Neon Lights

Neon Lights

Neon lights were created by Georges Claude, a French engineer. He first demonstrated his invention in 1910, at the Paris Motor Show. Neon lights are often used for signs and decorations. They are glass tubes, filled with neon gas. When an electric current passes through the gas in the tube, the gas glows, and light is produced.

Neon signs begin as straight, hollow glass tubes. The tubes are filled with gas, and sealed at the ends with metal electrodes. Turning the straight tubes into letters or shapes requires glass bending. Glass benders are craftspeople that are skilled in this art. The glass has to be heated just enough to make it flexible, and then it is bent using hand-held tools.

  • The color of the light produced depends on the gas inside the glass tubes. Lights that contain neon gas are dark orange. Since this was the first type that was made, all other lights tend to be called "neon" lights, even though they don't contain neon.

  • The gases used to produce some of the other colors are

  • o Hydrogen, to make red lights
    o Helium, to make yellow lights
    o Carbon dioxide, to make white lights
    o Mercury, to make blue lights
    o Many other colors can be made by mixing these gases

  • Georges Claude created a method for liquefying air in 1902. This made it possible to produce liquid nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. He co-founded a company to sell this liquefied air to scientists and engineers. The neon that Claude used to create neon signs was a by-product of the liquid air production.

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