Neon lights as signs have been used in advertisements for about a century. The history of these lighted signs dates way back to the 1910s. The light works by applying electric current to its gas which is found in the middle of the tube. This article discusses how neon lights work and how they are unique from other kinds of lighting.
Lights made of neon were initially invented by Georges Claude, a Frenchman. He found out that when electric current is applied to neon gas it illuminates. What happens in neon lights is that the neon gas gradually becomes ionized as electric current goes through it, and it eventually emits light. If enough current goes through the neon gas, the light then becomes constant.
Neon signs are a great way to market and bring attention to a business. We have all seen neon-lighted signs in the windows of restaurants, taverns, and a multitude of other businesses. They are instantly noticeable because they are lit and vibrantly colored. They look beautiful and are memorable. Just think of the beauty of Las Vegas lights.
Not all signs made of neon lights are made entirely from neon. Actually, some do not even have neon at all. It was discovered that other gases like argon, helium, xenon and krypton had equal reactions as the neon when electrified. They however had different colors when they glowed. Helium turned pink, neon turned orange, argon turned light blue, krypton turned light purple and xenon turned dark purple. When they were mixed together in varying quantities, they produced a lot of different colors of glow. They all took the name ‘neon light’ since neon was first discovered before the other noble gasses.
Have you thought about why neon lights are commonly used for firmenschild plexiglas signs on the street or in bars, restaurants, and other businesses? It is because the light is basically a tube full of gas, with electrodes at the ends. As such, it needs no filament like the incandescent bulb, or fluorescent coating like that of fluorescent bulbs. Neon tubes are easily bent into any desired shape. They can actually be indefinite in length also, but since they are much cheaper to replace when broken, people use shorter tubes.
The history of neon signs is interesting and they are unique by design. For over 100 years, neon signs have been used in advertising and their popularity is likely to continue for years to come.