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Elements for Kids

Argon

The element argon

  • Symbol: Ar
  • Atomic Number: 18
  • Atomic Weight: 39.948
  • Classification: Noble gas
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Gas
  • Density: 1.784 g/L @ 0°C
  • Melting Point: -189.35°C, -308.83°F
  • Boiling Point: -185.85°C, -302.53°F
  • Discovered by: Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay in 1894
Argon is the third element of the eighteenth column of the period table. It is classified as a noble gas. The argon atom has 18 electrons and 18 protons. Its outer shell is full with eight electrons.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions argon is an odorless and colorless gas. It is also an inert gas, meaning that it typically doesn't react with other elements to form compounds.

When argon is excited by a high voltage electric field it glows in a violet color.

Argon has been found to form one neutral compound with fluorine and hydrogen called argon fluorohydride (HArF). However, this compound is only stable at very cold temperatures (-256 degrees C).

Where is argon found on Earth?

Argon is the most abundant of the noble gases in the Earth's atmosphere. It constitutes nearly 1% (0.94%) of the volume of air making it the third most abundant element in air after nitrogen and oxygen. Argon is also found in small traces in the Earth's crust and ocean waters.

Argon is usually produced from liquid air as a byproduct of the production of nitrogen and oxygen.

How is argon used today?

Because argon is the most abundant and cheapest of the noble gases, it is often used when an inert gas is needed. One of the main applications for argon is for the gas inside incandescent lighting. Because argon won't react with the filament used by light bulbs even at high temperatures, it helps the filament to last longer and keeps the glass of the bulb from blackening.

Argon is also used for welding, medical instruments, preserving wine, thermal insulation in windows, and in microelectronics.

How was it discovered?

English chemist Henry Cavendish was the first scientist to show that air contained other gases than nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. However, he wasn't able to figure out or isolate another element.

In 1894 English scientist Lord Rayleigh and Scottish chemist Sir William Ramsay began to run experiments on the other gases in air. They eventually discovered argon as well as most of the other noble gases.

Where did argon get its name?

The name argon comes from the Greek word "argos" meaning "lazy" or "inactive."

Isotopes

Argon has three isotopes that are stable including argon-36, 38, and 40. By far the majority (over 99%) of argon found naturally on Earth is argon-40. The most common argon isotope in the universe is created by stars and is argon-36.

Interesting Facts about Argon


More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





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