Neon is the chemical element with the symbol Ne and atomic number 10. It is the second noble gas in the periodic table. Neon is a colorless, odorless, inert monatomic gas under standard conditions, with about two-thirds the density of air. It was discovered along with krypton and xenon in 1898 as one of the three residual rare inert elements remaining in dry air after nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide were removed. Neon was the second of these three rare gases to be discovered and was immediately recognized as a new element from its bright red emission spectrum. The name neon is derived from the Greek word, νέον, neuter singular form of νέος (neos), meaning 'new'. Neon is chemically inert, and no uncharged neon compounds are known. The compounds of neon currently known include ionic molecules, molecules held together by van der Waals forces and clathrates.

During cosmic nucleogenesis of the elements, large amounts of neon are built up from the alpha-capture fusion process in stars. Although neon is a very common element in the universe and solar system (it is fifth in cosmic abundance after hydrogen, helium, oxygen and carbon), it is rare on Earth. It composes about 18. 2 ppm of air by volume (this is about the same as the molecular or mole fraction) and a smaller fraction in Earth's crust. The reason for neon's relative scarcity on Earth and the inner (terrestrial) planets is that neon is highly volatile and forms no compounds to fix it to solids. As a result, it escaped from the planetesimals under the warmth of the newly ignited Sun in the early Solar System. Even the outer atmosphere of Jupiter is somewhat depleted of neon, although for a different reason. Neon gives a distinct reddish-orange glow when used in low-voltage neon glow lamps, high-voltage discharge tubes and neon advertising signs. The red emission line from neon also causes the well-known red light of helium–neon lasers. Neon is used in some plasma tube and refrigerant applications but has few other commercial uses. It is commercially extracted by the fractional distillation of liquid air. Since air is the only source, neon is considerably more expensive than helium.

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Atomic properties

Standard atomic weight20.1797 ±6·10-4
Atomic mass20.1797 u

Atomic radii

Radius (calculated)38 pm
Covalent radius58 pm
Van der Waals radius154 pm

Atomic shell

Electron configurationHe 2s2 2p6
Ionization energy(1st) 21.56454 eV
(2nd) 40.96297 eV
(3rd) 63.4233 eV
(4th) 97.19 eV
(5th) 126.247 eV
Shell model

Physical properties

Density9·10-4 g·cm−3 (273 K)
Molar volumesolid: 1.323·10-5 m3·mol−1
Speed of sound435 m·s−1


Melting point24.56 K
Boiling point27.1 K
Liquid range2.544 K
Triple point24.55 K @ 43.37 kPa
Critical point44.49 K @ 2.768 MPa


Melting enthalpy0.34 kJ·mol-1
Enthalpy of vaporization1.75 kJ·mol-1
Binding energy0 kJ·mol-1

Heat and conductivity

Specific heat capacity1,030 J·kg−1·K−1
Thermal conductivity0.0491 W·m-1·K-1


Magnetic susceptibility-6.74·10-6 cm3·mol−1 (298 K)

Optical properties

Refractive index1

Chemical properties

Oxidation state-


Sanderson scale4.5
Allred-Rochow scale4.84
Mulliken scale3.98
Allen scale4.787
Ghosh-Gupta scale11.3 eV
Nagle scale4.89

Other properties

Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structureFace-centered cubic
Goldschmidt Classificationatmophile
Superconductorwithout transition tempperature
Price/kg240 USD

Natural abundances

1.3·106 ppb ≈ 1.3·1016 M☉
1·106 ppb ≈ 1.98·1015 Mt
Earth’s crust
3 ppb ≈ 83.1 Mt
0.12 ppb ≈ 164 kt