neon lamp

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A small lamp consisting of a pair of electrodes, treated to emit electrons freely, sealed in a glass bulb containing neon gas at low pressure. When a minimum voltage of between 60 and 90 volts is applied across the electrodes, the kinetic energy of the electrons is sufficient to ionize the neon atoms around the cathode, causing the emission of a reddish light. With d.c. the glow is restricted to the cathode; with a.c. both electrodes act alternately as cathodes and a glow appears to emanate from both electrodes. The device consumes a very low power and is widely used as an indicator light showing that a circuit is live.

Subjects: Physics.

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