Xenon is a chemical element with the symbol Xe and atomic number 54. a heavy and extremely rare gas of Group 18 of the periodic table. It was the first noble gas found to form true chemical compounds. More than 4.5 times heavier than air, It is colourless, odourless, and tasteless. The name xenon is derived from the Greek word xenos Which means “strange” or “foreign”.
It was discovered by William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898. At the time, it was thought to be completely un-reactive, but in 1962 Neil Bartlett disproved this by forming a compound consisting of Xe, fluoride, and platinum. Today, there are a number of useful applications Xe and xenon compounds. Because Xe is not very abundant in our atmosphere, it is more expensive than most other gases and so is used in specialized applications.
It is used in flash lamps and arc lamps, and as a general anesthetic. The first excimer laser design used a Xe dimer molecule (Xe2) as the lasing medium, and the earliest laser designs used Xe flash lamps as pumps. It is used to search for hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles and as the propellant for ion thrusters in spacecraft.
Characteristics of Xenon
- At standard temperature and pressure, pure xenon gas has a density of 5.761 kg/m3, about 4.5 times the density of the Earth’s atmosphere at sea level, 1.217 kg/m3.
- As a liquid, It has a density of up to 3.100 g/mL, with the density maximum occurring at the triple point. Liquid xenon has a high polarizability due to its large atomic volume, and thus is an excellent solvent.
- It can dissolve hydrocarbons, biological molecules, and even water. Under the same conditions, the density of solid xenon, 3.640 g/cm3, is greater than the average density of granite, 2.75 g/cm3. Under gigapascals of pressure, xenon forms a metallic phase.
- Xe is a member of the zero-valence elements that are called noble or inert gases. It is inert to most common chemical reactions (such as combustion, for example) because the outer valence shell contains eight electrons. This produces a stable, minimum energy configuration in which the outer electrons are tightly bound.