XENON





Xenon 3350
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Xenon

Overview

Xenon is a noble gas. The term noble gas is used to describe the elements in Group 18 (VIIIA) of the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to one another. "Noble gas" suggests a group of elements that is "too far above other elements" to react with them. The noble gases are also called the inert gases. That term has the same meaning. The noble gases only react with other elements under very unusual circumstances.

Xenon is very rare in the atmosphere. Its abundance is estimated to be about 0.1 parts per million. Xenon does not have many practical applications. Mostly, it is used to fill specialized lamps.

SYMBOL
Xe

ATOMIC NUMBER
54

ATOMIC MASS
131.29

FAMILY
Group 18 (VIIIA)
Noble gas

PRONUNCIATION
ZEE-non

Discovery and naming

It took chemists more than a hundred years of careful research to understand the composition of air. In the early 1700s, they did not even understand the difference between the air around us and gases, like oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. They used the word "air" to mean the same thing as "gas." Gases were very difficult to study. So it took a long time to figure out how various "airs" and "gases" differed from each other.

Slowly the differences became apparent. In 1774, English chemist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) realized he could remove a separate gas—oxygen—from air. Later, other gases in the air were identified. These included nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and other noble gases. One of the last gases to be isolated was xenon.

Xenon was discovered in 1898 by Scottish chemist and physicist Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916) and English chemist Morris William Travers (1872-1961). Ramsay and Travers used liquid air to make their discovery. Here's how they did the research:

If air is cooled to a very low temperature, it changes from a gas to a liquid. As it warms up, it changes back to a gas. But this change does not take place all at once. As liquid air warms, one gas (nitrogen) boils away first. As the temperature increases further, another gas ( argon ) boils off. Still later, a third gas (oxygen) boils off.

Great care must be used in doing this experiment. The first three gases to boil away (nitrogen, oxygen, and argon) make up 99.95 percent of air. It may look as if all the air is gone after the oxygen boils away, but it isn't.

After the oxygen is gone, a tiny bit of liquid air remains. That liquid air contains other atmospheric gases. One of those gases is xenon. Ramsay and Travers first recognized the presence of xenon in liquid air on July 12, 1898. They named the element xenon for the Greek word that means "stranger."

Physical properties

Xenon is a colorless, odorless gas. It has a boiling point of -108.13°C (-162.5°F) and a melting point of C. It may seem strange to talk about the "melting point" and "boiling point" of a gas. So think about the opposite of those two terms. The opposite of melting is "turning from a liquid into a solid." The opposite of boiling is "turning from a gas into a liquid."

Thus, the boiling point of xenon is the temperature at which the gas turns into a liquid. The melting point of xenon is the temperature at which liquid xenon turns into a solid.

William Ramsay.
William Ramsay.

The density of xenon gas is 5.8971 grams per liter. That makes xenon about four times as dense as air.

Chemical properties

For many years, xenon was thought to be completely inactive. Inactive means that it does not react with any other element. Then, in 1962, English chemist Neil Bartlett (1932-) made xenon platinofluoride (XePtF 6 ). Bartlett's success inspired other chemists to try making other xenon compounds. Chemists found ways to make such xenon compounds as xenon difluoride (XeF 2 ), xenon tetrafluoride (XeF 4 ), xenon hexafluoride (XeF 6 ), xenon trioxide (XeO 3 ), and xenon oxytetrafluoride (XeOF 4 ).

In the early 1700s, they did not even understand the difference between the air around us and gases, like oxygen, carbon, like oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. They used the word "air" to mean the same thing as "gas."

Occurrence in nature

The Earth's atmosphere contains about 0.1 part per million of xenon. Studies indicate that the atmosphere of Mars may contain about the same amount of xenon, perhaps 0.08 parts per million. The element is not known to occur in the Earth's crust.

Lead canisters used to store radioactive xenon for medical diagnostic purposes.
Lead canisters used to store radioactive xenon for medical diagnostic purposes.

Isotopes

Nine naturally occurring isotopes of xenon exist. They are xenon-124, xenon-126, xenon-128, xenon-129, xenon-130, xenon-131, xenon-132, xenon-134, and xenon-136. Isotopes are two or more forms of an element. Isotopes differ from each other according to their mass number. The number written to the right of the element's name is the mass number. The mass number represents the number of protons plus neutrons in the nucleus of an atom of the element. The number of protons determines the element, but the number of neutrons in the atom of any one element can vary. Each variation is an isotope.

At least 18 radioactive isotopes of xenon are known also. A radioactive isotope is one that breaks apart and gives off some form of radiation. Radioactive isotopes are produced when very small particles are fired at atoms. These particles stick in the atoms and make them radioactive.

Two radioactive isotopes of xenon—xenon-127 and xenon-133—are used in medicine. These isotopes are used to study the flow of blood through the brain and the flow of air through the lungs. In most cases, the patient inhales the radioactive gas through a mask. The xenon gas moves through the body just like oxygen or any other gas. As it travels through the body, the xenon isotope gives off radiation. The radiation can be detected by measuring devices held over the body. Doctors can tell whether the patient's lungs are working properly.

Extraction

Xenon is produced in the same way it was discovered. Liquid air is allowed to evaporate. When most other gases have boiled off, xenon is left behind. The techniques used today are much better than those used by Ramsay and Travers, of course. It is now relatively easy to capture the xenon gas in air by this method.

Uses

The primary use of xenon is in lamps. When an electric current is passed through a gas, it can give off light. Fluorescent lamps and "neon" lights are examples of this process. The kind and color of light given off depend on the gas used in the lamp. Xenon is used when a very bright, sun-like light is needed. For example, the flash units and bright lights used by photographers are often made with xenon gas.

Ultraviolet lights used to sterilize laboratory equipment may also contain xenon. The light produced is strong enough to kill bacteria. Xenon is also used in the manufacture of strobe lights. A strobe light produces a very bright, intense light in very short pulses. Strobe lights appear to "freeze" the movement of an object. Each time the light flashes on, it shines on the moving object for a fraction of a second. The object's motion can be broken down into any number of very short intervals.

Compounds

So far, xenon compounds are only laboratory curiosities. They have no practical applications. (See under "Chemical properties.")

Two radioactive isotopes of xenon are used to study the flow of blood through the brain and the flow of air through the lungs.

Health effects

Xenon is a harmless gas. Some of its compounds, however, are toxic.



User Contributions:

David Denton
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Oct 26, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
Xenon has also been used in experimentary ion engines. The concept is that by constant propulsionof ions in a vaccum, you would be able to pass the speed (over a period of years) of that of a chemically propelled engine. It is not practical in Earth's atmosphere because the amount of force that it exerts is equal to that of a paper pressing down on your hand by gravitational forces. The reason that this works is that while a chemically propelled engine may last ours, ion engines can last years, constantly exerting a force and applying Newton's third law
Niccoh
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Oct 31, 2009 @ 5:17 pm
Thanks for this wonderful article!
I was able to finish my science powerpoint in a breeze,
this article was in full depth and is easy for the reader to understand.
THANKS!
Tiffany
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Nov 10, 2009 @ 8:20 pm
ALL I CAN SAY IS THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH! This is better than wikepedia!
Kelsey
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Jan 3, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
PS I agree with Tiffany. this is way bettter then wikepedia, :P
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Feb 9, 2010 @ 11:11 am
Thank you for the great facts! i think that i am going to get a great grade on science thanks to you! keep sending notes! Thanks once again!
so...
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Feb 20, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
helped my get my xenon science project done!!!
thank you ! keep up the great articles! =)
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Mar 29, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
This was a great article. Chemistryexplained.com really lives up to it's name. Nothing I've read up until now has been as clear as this. Thank you so very much.
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Apr 20, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
This was an amazing article and a big help thanks! Very detailed and states clear facts.
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May 18, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
very helpful. i got all the imformation i needed on one site. usually i have to look up at least 6 to 7.
Maybe?
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Oct 20, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
Thanks so much! This is great! I will definately make a 100 on my biology paper!
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Nov 22, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
thanks now im not going to flunk my science project. i was about to give up.:)
:)
Brett
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Dec 18, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
I have a question about Xenon... Is it conductive to electricity? I know its a noble gas and all but still i need to know if it conductive... Thanks
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Jan 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
Hello.

You mentioned Xenon is toxic to human yet it is the ideal anesthetic gas. Any Comment.
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Jan 21, 2011 @ 6:06 am
Under Physical Properties, you seem to have left out the melting point. And am I mistaken in thinking that the boiling point is the temperature at which the liquid turns into a gas, rather than at which the 'gas turns into a liquid', as stated in the last sentence of the section? I'm a bit confused by this explanation.
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Feb 15, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
need help science project
more info about it this does not help at all this is crazy !
Zoe James
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Mar 9, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
Thank you so much, this helped me finish my science project really quickly & easily!
jenna
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Jun 4, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I finished my Xenon project in half the time eceryone else in my class did thanks to this article! Thakn you sovery much!
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Oct 16, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
Thank you so much I have an Element Booklet due tomorrow and this was THE BEST site and article I found! I really appreciate it!
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Oct 18, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
I have a project due about xenon within the next week i did find this article very helpful however were williams and travers also the ones who isolated this element?
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Nov 21, 2011 @ 10:10 am
What is the name of Xenon and the other elements in it family?
Hannnnnnah(:
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Dec 2, 2011 @ 11:11 am
Is Xenon man made? Naturally Occuring? Does it rust or Tarnish? What does it react with?
ScienceKid
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Feb 15, 2012 @ 3:03 am
Thanks, Now thanks to u im gonna do grat on my proJ
Moose
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Feb 25, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
I had a science project to do on Xenon and this is page has been extremely helpful! Thank you.
Russell
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May 13, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Lots of helpfull info, but do you have any more information on the isotopes of this element? For example, how were the isotpes developed? Great job anyway mate!
Emma
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Sep 21, 2012 @ 7:19 pm
This is amazing. The way this article is written is much clearer and helps a TON with the Element Superhero project I am doing for Chemistry. Xenon is a pretty cool gas!
Connor
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Oct 28, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
Thank you so much. my science project depended on this info and i would give this author a kiss if i knew who he/she was!
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Nov 28, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
Thank you so much yopu had helped me with my Xenon project! But I still need more chemical properties, but other than that this was a very good article.
nelly
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Dec 11, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
thanks i finally finished my project it was a breeze thanks alot for this article . :)
Dee
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May 15, 2013 @ 7:19 pm
How has the science of chemistry built in xenon? And what is the value of xenon in modern chemistry?
Wlad
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May 18, 2013 @ 10:10 am
Nice written article.
Curiously, when you inhale Xenon you will be anesthetized. It is the only one element having this feature. Even more, Xenon seems to be an ideal anesthetics and only high price restricts its use for anesthesia.
lee vincent
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Jun 22, 2013 @ 7:07 am
my question is how to get xenon in our environment places?
mike
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Sep 26, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
Is xenon a liquid in space at -115c? If it is how many pounds would fit into a cubic foot container. What would that 1 cubic foot expand to is it was heated to 260 c.
Colin
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Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
it was cool, it gave me the exact information that I needed for my study paragraph.
Friend
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Nov 19, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
Is xenon found in humans? Thanks for the information, this helped a lot
Rohil
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Nov 23, 2013 @ 10:10 am
Thanks for the information..I could complete my school project.
eminem
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Nov 24, 2013 @ 4:04 am
THANKS FOR THIS INFORMATION MAN THIS HELPED ME VERYMUCH THANKS ,MAM THANKS MAN
Balls
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Jan 7, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
I have a project due tomorrow wish me luck about Xenon
Liz Kellond
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Feb 11, 2014 @ 11:11 am
I was researching Xenon for age before I found this article, thank you so much. I have some e-Lybra Bio Resonance healing mchines and Xenon came up in the read out for a client who had recently had some hospital tests, so now I understand it's significance therefore so did she. I had been truggling to understand what aan Isotope was nd your explanation is the bet I've found so far. Excellent job, I'm really grateful!!
Nikitah.Barr
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Aug 26, 2014 @ 7:07 am
Thank you so much! I'm looking forward to get A for my chemistry Assignment! Keep up the good job! I LOVE SCIENCE!
Liam
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Nov 29, 2014 @ 9:09 am
Thank you for this great information very useful.Please continue your articles.

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