Noble gas

Noble gases
CaesiumBariumLanthanumCeriumPraseodymiumNeodymiumPromethiumSamariumEuropiumGadoliniumTerbiumDysprosiumHolmiumErbiumThuliumYtterbiumLutetiumHafniumTantalumTungstenRheniumOsmiumIridiumPlatinumGoldMercury (element)ThalliumLeadBismuthPoloniumAstatineRadon
halogens  alkali metals
IUPAC group number18
Name by elementhelium group or
neon group
Trivial namenoble gases
CAS group number
(US, pattern A-B-A)
old IUPAC number
(Europe, pattern A-B)

↓ Period
Image: Helium discharge tube
Helium (He)
Image: Neon discharge tube
Neon (Ne)
Image: Argon discharge tube
Argon (Ar)
Image: Krypton discharge tube
Krypton (Kr)
Image: Xenon discharge tube
Xenon (Xe)
6Radon (Rn)
7Oganesson (Og)


primordial element
element by radioactive decay
Atomic number color: red=gas

The noble gases (historically also the inert gases) make up a group of chemical elements with similar properties; under standard conditions, they are all odorless, colorless, monatomic gases with very low chemical reactivity. The six noble gases that occur naturally are helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and the radioactive radon (Rn). These elements are all nonmetals. Oganesson (Og) is variously predicted to be a noble gas as well or to break the trend due to relativistic effects; its chemistry has not yet been investigated.

For the first six periods of the periodic table, the noble gases are exactly the members of group 18. Noble gases are typically highly unreactive except when under particular extreme conditions. The inertness of noble gases makes them very suitable in applications where reactions are not wanted. For example, argon is used in incandescent light bulbs to prevent the hot tungsten filament from oxidizing; also, helium is used in breathing gas by deep-sea divers to prevent oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) toxicity.

The properties of the noble gases can be well explained by modern theories of atomic structure: their outer shell of valence electrons is considered to be "full", giving them little tendency to participate in chemical reactions, and it has been possible to prepare only a few hundred noble gas compounds. The melting and boiling points for a given noble gas are close together, differing by less than 10 °C (18 °F); that is, they are liquids over only a small temperature range.

Neon, argon, krypton, and xenon are obtained from air in an air separation unit using the methods of liquefaction of gases and fractional distillation. Helium is sourced from natural gas fields which have high concentrations of helium in the natural gas, using cryogenic gas separation techniques, and radon is usually isolated from the radioactive decay of dissolved radium, thorium, or uranium compounds (since those compounds give off alpha particles). Noble gases have several important applications in industries such as lighting, welding, and space exploration. A helium-oxygen breathing gas is often used by deep-sea divers at depths of seawater over 55 m (180 ft) to keep the diver from experiencing oxygen toxemia, the lethal effect of high-pressure oxygen, nitrogen narcosis, the distracting narcotic effect of the nitrogen in air beyond this partial-pressure threshold, and carbon dioxide poisoning (hypercapnia), the panic-inducing effect of excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. After the risks caused by the flammability of hydrogen became apparent, it was replaced with helium in blimps and balloons.


Noble gas is translated from the German noun Edelgas, first used in 1898 by Hugo Erdmann[1] to indicate their extremely low level of reactivity. The name makes an analogy to the term "noble metals", which also have low reactivity. The noble gases have also been referred to as inert gases, but this label is deprecated as many noble gas compounds are now known.[2] Rare gases is another term that was used,[3] but this is also inaccurate because argon forms a fairly considerable part (0.94% by volume, 1.3% by mass) of the Earth's atmosphere due to decay of radioactive potassium-40.[4]

A line spectrum chart of the visible spectrum showing sharp lines on top.
Helium was first detected in the Sun due to its characteristic spectral lines.

Pierre Janssen and Joseph Norman Lockyer discovered a new element on August 18, 1868 while looking at the chromosphere of the Sun, and named it helium after the Greek word for the Sun, ἥλιος (hḗlios).[5] No chemical analysis was possible at the time, but helium was later found to be a noble gas. Before them, in 1784, the English chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish had discovered that air contains a small proportion of a substance less reactive than nitrogen.[6] A century later, in 1895, Lord Rayleigh discovered that samples of nitrogen from the air were of a different density than nitrogen resulting from chemical reactions. Along with Scottish scientist William Ramsay at University College, London, Lord Rayleigh theorized that the nitrogen extracted from air was mixed with another gas, leading to an experiment that successfully isolated a new element, argon, from the Greek word ἀργός (argós, "idle" or "lazy").[6] With this discovery, they realized an entire class of gases was missing from the periodic table. During his search for argon, Ramsay also managed to isolate helium for the first time while heating cleveite, a mineral. In 1902, having accepted the evidence for the elements helium and argon, Dmitri Mendeleev included these noble gases as group 0 in his arrangement of the elements, which would later become the periodic table.[7]

Ramsay continued his search for these gases using the method of fractional distillation to separate liquid air into several components. In 1898, he discovered the elements krypton, neon, and xenon, and named them after the Greek words κρυπτός (kryptós, "hidden"), νέος (néos, "new"), and ξένος (ksénos, "stranger"), respectively. Radon was first identified in 1898 by Friedrich Ernst Dorn,[8] and was named radium emanation, but was not considered a noble gas until 1904 when its characteristics were found to be similar to those of other noble gases.[9] Rayleigh and Ramsay received the 1904 Nobel Prizes in Physics and in Chemistry, respectively, for their discovery of the noble gases;[10][11] in the words of J. E. Cederblom, then president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, "the discovery of an entirely new group of elements, of which no single representative had been known with any certainty, is something utterly unique in the history of chemistry, being intrinsically an advance in science of peculiar significance".[11]

The discovery of the noble gases aided in the development of a general understanding of atomic structure. In 1895, French chemist Henri Moissan attempted to form a reaction between fluorine, the most electronegative element, and argon, one of the noble gases, but failed. Scientists were unable to prepare compounds of argon until the end of the 20th century, but these attempts helped to develop new theories of atomic structure. Learning from these experiments, Danish physicist Niels Bohr proposed in 1913 that the electrons in atoms are arranged in shells surrounding the nucleus, and that for all noble gases except helium the outermost shell always contains eight electrons.[9] In 1916, Gilbert N. Lewis formulated the octet rule, which concluded an octet of electrons in the outer shell was the most stable arrangement for any atom; this arrangement caused them to be unreactive with other elements since they did not require any more electrons to complete their outer shell.[12]

In 1962, Neil Bartlett discovered the first chemical compound of a noble gas, xenon hexafluoroplatinate.[13] Compounds of other noble gases were discovered soon after: in 1962 for radon, radon difluoride (RnF
),[14] which was identified by radiotracer techniques and in 1963 for krypton, krypton difluoride (KrF
).[15] The first stable compound of argon was reported in 2000 when argon fluorohydride (HArF) was formed at a temperature of 40 K (−233.2 °C; −387.7 °F).[16]

In December 1998, scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research working in Dubna, Russia bombarded plutonium (Pu) with calcium (Ca) to produce a single atom of element 114,[17] flerovium (Fl).[18] Preliminary chemistry experiments have indicated this element may be the first superheavy element to show abnormal noble-gas-like properties, even though it is a member of group 14 on the periodic table.[19] In October 2006, scientists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory successfully created synthetically oganesson (Og), the seventh element in group 18,[20] by bombarding californium (Cf) with calcium (Ca).[21]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Edelgasse
العربية: غاز نبيل
aragonés: Gas noble
asturianu: Gas noble
Avañe'ẽ: Mba'etĩ marangatu
azərbaycanca: Təsirsiz qazlar
Bân-lâm-gú: Hi-iú khì-thé
беларуская: Інертныя газы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Інэртныя газы
български: Благороден газ
català: Gas noble
Чӑвашла: Сӳрĕк газсем
čeština: Vzácné plyny
Cymraeg: Nwy nobl
dansk: Ædelgas
Deutsch: Edelgase
Ελληνικά: Ευγενή αέρια
эрзянь: Куло коштнэ
español: Gases nobles
Esperanto: Nobla gaso
euskara: Gas noble
فارسی: گاز نجیب
Fiji Hindi: Noble gas
français: Gaz noble
Gaeilge: Triathgháis
Gaelg: Gas ooasle
galego: Gas nobre
贛語: 惰性氣體
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Hî-yù hi-thí
한국어: 비활성 기체
հայերեն: Իներտ գազեր
hornjoserbsce: Drohopłun
Bahasa Indonesia: Gas mulia
interlingua: Gas nobile
íslenska: Eðallofttegund
italiano: Gas nobili
עברית: גז אציל
Basa Jawa: Gas mulya
Kiswahili: Gesi adimu
Kreyòl ayisyen: Gaz nòb
latviešu: Cēlgāzes
Lëtzebuergesch: Edelgas
lietuvių: Inertinės dujos
Limburgs: Aedelgaas
la .lojban.: navni
lumbaart: Gas nòbil
magyar: Nemesgázok
македонски: Благороден гас
Bahasa Melayu: Gas adi
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Hĭ-iū ké-tā̤
монгол: Инерт хий
မြန်မာဘာသာ: နိုဘယ်ဂက်စ်
Nederlands: Edelgas
नेपाल भाषा: नोबल ग्यास
日本語: 第18族元素
norsk: Edelgass
norsk nynorsk: Edelgass
олык марий: Суаппез-влак
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਨੋਬਲ ਗੈਸ
پنجابی: جوگی گیساں
Papiamentu: Gas inerto
Plattdüütsch: Eddelgas
polski: Helowce
português: Gás nobre
română: Gaz nobil
Runa Simi: Umiña wapsi
Scots: Noble gas
සිංහල: උච්ච වායු
Simple English: Noble gas
slovenčina: Vzácny plyn
slovenščina: Žlahtni plin
Soomaaliga: Neefta Gobta
српски / srpski: Племенити гас
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Plemeniti gas
Basa Sunda: Gas mulya
suomi: Jalokaasut
svenska: Ädelgas
Türkçe: Soy gaz
українська: Благородні гази
Tiếng Việt: Khí hiếm
文言: 貴氣體
Winaray: Gas noble
吴语: 稀有气体
粵語: 惰性氣體
中文: 稀有气体