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Thread: Neon Sign Colors

  1. #1 Neon Sign Colors 
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    Wife & I spent two nights (Free, mind you!) at the Tropicana Hotel Casino, Sunday and Monday, and as usual their dazzingly bewildering lighting effects moved me. Above a centrally-located bar, which of course offerred gaming options at every seat (!), the roof-like structure above had a glass-tubed lighted neon-type border, totalling perhaps 100 feet of marvelously illuminated tubing serving no purpose other than bedazzlement. It DID do that! But, I reflected on it's color:

    It was very bright, having the hue of today's outdoor traffic controls using an almost fluorescent yellowish-orange color, "Industrial Yellow"?

    Obviously not a fluorescent type device, this used glass tubing, about 1/2" in diameter, bent into the shape surrounding the above overhang. It WAS a "neon sign".

    Now, my question is, how do they obtain colors so vivid, using ionized gas excited by high voltage, to obtain colors only vaguely related to the typical spectral lines? Mixed gases? The very ends of the individual tubes, each perhaps 10 feet long, revealed ends that showed no colored coating existed either inside or outside the tubes; they were of clear glass! I recollect that Neon gas produces very reddish-slightly orange hue, Xenon gas bright white, as used in photographic flashtubes, Argon whitish (?), Krypton, no idea, radon (far too dangerous!) also no idea. Non-noble gasses pose problems, I think, due to chemically-induced aberration.

    So, my question is, how do they do it? Can doping noble gases with small quantities of other elements be responsible? jocular


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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Wife & I spent two nights (Free, mind you!) at the Tropicana Hotel Casino, Sunday and Monday, and as usual their dazzingly bewildering lighting effects moved me. Above a centrally-located bar, which of course offerred gaming options at every seat (!), the roof-like structure above had a glass-tubed lighted neon-type border, totalling perhaps 100 feet of marvelously illuminated tubing serving no purpose other than bedazzlement. It DID do that! But, I reflected on it's color:

    It was very bright, having the hue of today's outdoor traffic controls using an almost fluorescent yellowish-orange color, "Industrial Yellow"?

    Obviously not a fluorescent type device, this used glass tubing, about 1/2" in diameter, bent into the shape surrounding the above overhang. It WAS a "neon sign".

    Now, my question is, how do they obtain colors so vivid, using ionized gas excited by high voltage, to obtain colors only vaguely related to the typical spectral lines? Mixed gases? The very ends of the individual tubes, each perhaps 10 feet long, revealed ends that showed no colored coating existed either inside or outside the tubes; they were of clear glass! I recollect that Neon gas produces very reddish-slightly orange hue, Xenon gas bright white, as used in photographic flashtubes, Argon whitish (?), Krypton, no idea, radon (far too dangerous!) also no idea. Non-noble gasses pose problems, I think, due to chemically-induced aberration.

    So, my question is, how do they do it? Can doping noble gases with small quantities of other elements be responsible? jocular
    Typically different gases. Helium, for example, is often used when yellow is desired; mercury for blue, and so on.

    In the latter case, the high UV content can be used to excite phosphor coatings to yield a variety of colors that ordinary/cheap gases might not provide.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by tk421 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Wife & I spent two nights (Free, mind you!) at the Tropicana Hotel Casino, Sunday and Monday, and as usual their dazzingly bewildering lighting effects moved me. Above a centrally-located bar, which of course offerred gaming options at every seat (!), the roof-like structure above had a glass-tubed lighted neon-type border, totalling perhaps 100 feet of marvelously illuminated tubing serving no purpose other than bedazzlement. It DID do that! But, I reflected on it's color:

    It was very bright, having the hue of today's outdoor traffic controls using an almost fluorescent yellowish-orange color, "Industrial Yellow"?

    Obviously not a fluorescent type device, this used glass tubing, about 1/2" in diameter, bent into the shape surrounding the above overhang. It WAS a "neon sign".

    Now, my question is, how do they obtain colors so vivid, using ionized gas excited by high voltage, to obtain colors only vaguely related to the typical spectral lines? Mixed gases? The very ends of the individual tubes, each perhaps 10 feet long, revealed ends that showed no colored coating existed either inside or outside the tubes; they were of clear glass! I recollect that Neon gas produces very reddish-slightly orange hue, Xenon gas bright white, as used in photographic flashtubes, Argon whitish (?), Krypton, no idea, radon (far too dangerous!) also no idea. Non-noble gasses pose problems, I think, due to chemically-induced aberration.

    So, my question is, how do they do it? Can doping noble gases with small quantities of other elements be responsible? jocular
    Typically different gases. Helium, for example, is often used when yellow is desired; mercury for blue, and so on.

    In the latter case, the high UV content can be used to excite phosphor coatings to yield a variety of colors that ordinary/cheap gases might not provide.
    I wondered about the possibility of coatings, actually climbed up high enough at the joint where one tube ended and curved back into the structure. About an inch of the tube seemed visibly transparent, as though uncoated. jocular
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