Neon is a colorless, inert monatomic gas. It has no smell or taste and is used to produce advertising signs and lighting equipment.
A neon sign is a form of electric signage that uses glass tubes filled with various gasses that emit light when electrified by an individual’s battery or electrical wire system. In most cases, the glass tubing glows at least partially due to fluorescence. Fluorescence occurs when an individual atom emits ultraviolet light (that is, <100 nm) as the result of returning to its ground state after having absorbed incoming energy. As fluorescence is also responsible for the colors of nebulae, neon signs are mainly identified by their ubiquity in advertisements, with most notably colorful storefronts.
The process of creating a neon sign involves sending an electric current through a sealed tube filled with neon gas. This excites the atoms inside, which emit light as they return to their original state. There are three different types of neon lights: cold cathode, hot cathode, and cross-electrode lamps.
A cold-cathode lamp (CEL) consists of two electrodes separated by a mixture of gases that becomes conductive when energized; this lamp produces ultraviolet (UV) light converted into visible red light using either a phosphor coating or a combination of red-emitting and green-emitting fluorescent powder.
A hot-cathode lamp (HEL) uses an electric arc to excite the gas mixture. The electrodes of a hot-cathode lamp are designed for higher power dissipation than those of a cold-cathode light, so they get boiling and must be cooled by water or airflow.
Cross-electrode lamps contain two electrodes in each envelope; these lamps do not require a starter electrode and can reach high brightness levels while using less power than an equivalent hot cathode lamp. They were initially developed for color television screens and similar applications where multiple electrodes were required for operation at different screen voltages and currents. Still, their long lifetime has since made them popular as economical sources of white light.
The three types of neon lights are named based on the number of electrodes: single-electrode lamps, dual-electrode lamps, and cross-electrode (multicolored) lamps. This only means the number of electrodes, not one, two, or three.
A term that is often confused with these is “neon tube.” Neon tubes are generally used to create signage that glows brightly in the dark without electricity. These should be differentiated from neon signs that require an electrical current to light. The way to tell if something is a neon sign requires checking if it has an electric power cord attached to it somewhere. If so, then it’s a neon sign. If there’s no electric power cord, then it’s a neon tube.
If you would like to purchase a neon sign or any other form of advertisement equipment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local company advertising agency, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.