Where Is Neon Found?

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Other than its place on the periodic table of the elements with the other noble gases, the main source of neon on Earth is in the atmosphere. This element is very rare on Earth, though it is one of the four most commonly occurring elements in the universe. Earth just happens to have a very low concentration of neon relative to other parts of the universe.

Neon accounts for 0.001818 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere by volume. This elemental gas is very light and highly inert, and it occurs in much lower volumes on small, warm, solid planets such as Earth. In addition to occurring in the atmosphere, neon appears in Earth’s crust and oceans, though in even lower concentrations than it does in the atmosphere. This element was actually discovered through experimentation with air, and its name derives from the Greek word for “new” thanks to its relatively late discovery in 1898.

Though neon is scarce on Earth, it is highly visible in its most popular application: neon signs. These brightly colored signs make use of the gas, which fills glass or plastic tubes and is electrified, creating an energy-state change on an atomic level that releases light. However, neon is not the only ingredient in these lights. Only the red-orange neon signs have only neon inside. Other colors require different elements; for example, mercury results in light blue.