Xenon is element number 54 on the periodic table of the elements. It has a mass of roughly 13
1 atomic mass units. There are 77 neutrons and 54 protons in the nucleus of the atom. The symbol f
or xenon is Xe and it belongs to the family of elements called the noble gases. It is called a nobl
e gas because the valance shell of one atom contains a full shell. Xenon is one of the most stable
elements on the table. The 54 electrons are arranged, so that there are 2 in the 1st shell, 8 in th
e 2nd, 18 in the 3rd, 18 in the 4th and lastly 8 in the 5th shell. The melting and boiling points o
f xenon are extremely low. They are -111°C and -107°C respectively.
Xenon and most of
the other noble gases were discovered by Sir William Ramsey and M.W. Travers from England in 1898.
The two scientists discovered it mistakenly while experimenting with crude krypton, another noble g
as. They were separating the elements in the crude krypton through a process called fractional dist
illation. In fractional distillation, the process separates two elements that have different boilin
g points. Basic-ally, when a sample is heated, the faster element leaves first, leaving the second
element behind. Krypton was known to have a boiling point at a temperature that is lower than xenon
. So the scientists could predict that heating the mixture would leave krypton in the container, wh
ile the faster boiling xenon leaving it. After the two scientists separated krypton and xenon, they
identified it as a new element through the emission spectrum of the gas.
Xenon is use
d heavily in light bulbs. Many of the bulbs in camera flashes have xenon in them, because they can
be used over 10,000 times without burning out, as well as producing a good balance of all colors. X
enon is also used in medical purposes. Local anesthesia is made up of 20% oxygen and 80% xenon. Xe
non also can be injected or breathed into the body to give clearer M.R.I.'s or X-rays. In addition
to the uses above, xenon is