Here’s element 10 in our International Year of the Periodic Table element series: Neon. Best known for its use in neon lights, neon also finds use as a refrigerant. Its unreactive nature means it has no known stable compounds with other elements.

Neon lends its name to neon lights – though, in truth, only those that glow with a distinct red-orange colour use neon. Other colours are produced by other noble gases. Passing a high voltage through these gases ionises them and causes them to glow.

Liquid neon is a powerful refrigerant, with forty times the cooling power per unit volume of liquid helium. However, it is yet to see widespread use in this application.

Neon is the most inert element in the periodic table. While the other noble gases have been identified to form a limited number of stable compounds with other elements, researchers have yet to identify any stable compounds of neon. Some unstable ions in which neon is bonded to other elements have been identified, however.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.