What is krypton ?

Krypton is an inert gaseous chemical element that exists in one part per million in the atmosphere of the Earth. Due to its low concentration, krypton is difficult to extract, making it an expensive product for market sale. Krypton is commonly used in lighting, such as those found in neon signs and florescent lights, because it produces a very bright white light when conducting current. Krypton is identified with the symbol Kr and the atomic number is 36.

In 1785, Henry Cavendish discovered that the air contained a part that is not nitrogen or oxygen. It turned out that several elements were present within this fraction, which scientists identified one by one. However, it was only until 1898 that Morris Travers and William Ramsay discovered krypton, along with xenon and neon.

Like other noble gases, krypton is colorless, tasteless and odorless. The solid form of krypton are cubed white crystals characterized by a rich green to red color. While the gas itself is nonreactive and stable, the radioactive isotopes of krypton is produced through nuclear reactions. In addition to the atmosphere, krypton is also found in meteorites and minerals.

Extracting krypton involves a procedure called fractional distillation. In this process, an air sample is cooled until it solidifies and then gently heated, reverting to its gaseous form. Since different elements in air become gaseous within varying temperatures, they would also precipitate in different rates, which allow scientists to collect elements one at a time as each reverts to the gaseous state.

Krypton, as you may have known, has been used in the fictional planet that Superman calls home and derives the dangerous mineral kryptonite from this particular element. However, unlike Superman’s weakness – the kryptonite – krypton is not hazardous unless exposed in high concentrations.

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2 Responses to “What is krypton ?”

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