How can we not love neon lights?

The George Claude process of air liquefaction was another innovation that resulted in the invention of neon lamps. His invention of a process that allows gasses to be converted to liquid through cooling and reheating enabled him to make large quantities of pure neon. This noble chemical was discovered years before and had unique characteristics when exposed to electricity. But, due to difficulties in obtaining pure neon, the neon lamp would not be patentable until more than a decade after its discovery.

After purifying neon by capturing runoff gasses emitted during the liquefaction, Claude put it into enormous glass vacuum tubes that look a lot like fluorescent bulbs today. Then, he ran an electrical current through both ends of each tube. Later versions of the tubes only ran the current through one side, but the end result is the exact same – bright orange/red light.

People associate neon lighting with a multitude of colors. However, pure neon emits only an orange-red glow. Quanta is the term for light energy released by electrons in atoms, such as neon. They are fixed-sized bunches of light energy. The size of the light wave is related to how the human eye perceives color. For example, a larger wave might appear blue and a smaller wave may appear red. All other colors (e.g. purple, yellow, and so on) can be obtained by mixing neon lights. Mixing gases can give you other colors.

It is not difficult to see how fireworks are made. The firework will emit a different color if certain metal salts are used. The metal salts strontium or lithium salts are responsible for red fireworks, while blue and calcium come from copper and calcium. This is the same process that makes neon lighting possible.

Designers are always on the lookout for the latest lighting technology. However, the neon light is still a great choice. While it’s efficient in terms of energy consumption, it’s not the best way to illuminate a room. Neon has many wonderful characteristics that make it easy for people to fall in love. If left on, neon can burn for 50+years.

In some ways, neon signs are unique to America. No other country has embraced neon signs in the same way after WWII as the U.S. It is probably neon’s aesthetic and nostalgic qualities that attract neon light enthusiasts and IA developers to this century-old technology. These small moments of escape can be found in retail and workspace environments around the world.

Posted in Lights.

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