Xenon: the essentials

Xenon is a "noble" or "inert" gas present in the atmosphere to a small extent. Xenon is present in the Martian atmosphere to the extent of about 0.08 ppm. Before 1962, it was generally assumed that xenon and other noble gases were unable to form compounds. Among the compounds of xenon now reported are xenon hydrate, sodium perxenate, xenon deuterate, difluoride, tetrafluoride, hexafluoride, and XePtF6 and XeRhF6. The highly explosive xenon trioxide, XeO3, is known.

Metallic xenon is produced by applying several hundred kilobars of pressure. Xenon in a vacuum tube produces a blue glow when excited by an electrical discharge and finds use in strobe lamps. It is an odourless, colourless, inert gas.

Table: basic information about and classifications of xenon.

Xenon: historical information

Xenon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay, Morris W. Travers at 1898 in England. Origin of name: from the Greek word "xenos" meaning "stranger".

Xenon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898 in the residue left after evaporating liquid air components. Krypton and neon had been discovered by the same methods by the same workers only weeks earlier. They had to work with huge volumes of air to produce just a little xenon since it turned out that xenon is only present to the extent of about 0.087 ppm in the atmosphere.

Xenon: physical properties

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Xenon: orbital properties

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Isolation: xenon is present to a small extent in the atmosphere (less than 1 ppm by volume) and is obtained as a byproduct from the liquefaction and separation of air. This would not normally be carried out in the laboratory and xenon is available commercially in cylinders at high pressure.

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xenon atomic number