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Essay/Term paper: Xenon

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Research Papers

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Xenon


Xenon is element number 54 on the periodic table of the elements. It has a
mass of roughly 131 atomic mass units. There are 77 neutrons and 54 protons in
the nucleus of the atom. The symbol for xenon is Xe and it belongs to the
family of elements called the noble gases. It is called a noble 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 the 2nd, 18 in the 3rd, 18 in the 4th and lastly 8 in
the 5th shell. The melting and boiling points of 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 gas. They were
separating the elements in the crude krypton through a process called fractional
distillation. In fractional distillation, the process separates two elements
that have different boiling 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, while 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 used 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. Xenon is also
used in medical purposes. Local anesthesia is made up of 20% oxygen and 80%
xenon. Xenon 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 also in movie
projector lamps, advertising lights, and bubble chambers, Bubble chambers are
devices used by physicists that are used to detect nuclear radiation. The
element is very chemically stable and unradioactive and is generally not harmful
to man. Xenon is also nonflammable. It is only when it combines with other
elements that xenon becomes hazardous. Xenon compounds are highly radioactive.
This element accounts for a very minimal amount of the earth's crust. Only
3x10-9% of the earth contains xenon. The element is mostly found in the air,
and is only collected through special air separation plants.
In "Science News Magazine," I found an article of interest to me
concerning xenon. It stated that scientists have discovered a way to use xenon
to make M.R.I.s of lungs come out clearer. After exciting rubidium atoms and
adding it to xenon, all a patient has to do is breathe in the xenon to have
clearer M.R.I.s. People who breathe in the xenon have results that are 10,00 to
100,000 clearer than other people who didn't breathe in the mixture.
Scientists have predicted that this technique will be used much more frequently
in the future whenever M.R.I.s are needed to be taken.
In conclusion, doing this report helped me learn a lot about what I
think is a relatively unnoticed element. I have learned the uses of xenon as
well has how it can be helpful in medical procedures. People should try to
learn more about this element as one day it may help you in life. The many uses
of this element makes it a very valuable addition to the periodic table of
elements.


 

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