2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Chemical elements

18 chlorineargonpotassium


Periodic Table - Extended Periodic Table
Name, Symbol, Number argon, Ar, 18
Chemical series noble gases
Group, Period, Block 18, 3, p
Appearance colorless
Atomic mass 39.948 (1) g/mol
Electron configuration [Ne] 3s2 3p6
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 8
Physical properties
Phase gas (At room temperature)
Density (0 °C, 101.325 kPa)
1.784 g/L
Melting point 83.80  K
(-189.35 ° C, -308.83 ° F)
Boiling point 87.30 K
(-185.85 ° C, -302.53 ° F)
Critical point 150.87 K, 4.898 MPa
Heat of fusion 1.18 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization 6.43 kJ·mol−1
Heat capacity (25 °C) 20.786 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K   47 53 61 71 87
Atomic properties
Crystal structure cubic face centered
Oxidation states 0
Electronegativity no data (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
( more)
1st: 1520.6 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 2665.8 kJ·mol−1
3rd: 3931 kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 71 pm
Atomic radius (calc.) 71 pm
Covalent radius 97 pm
Van der Waals radius 188 pm
Magnetic ordering nonmagnetic
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 17.72 mW·m−1·K−1
Speed of sound (gas, 27 °C) 323 m/s
CAS registry number 7440-37-1
Selected isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of argon
iso NA half-life DM DE ( MeV) DP
36Ar 0.337% Ar is stable with 18 neutrons
37Ar syn 35 d ε  ? 37Cl
38Ar 0.063% Ar is stable with 20 neutrons
39Ar syn 269 y β- 0.565 39K
40Ar 99.600% Ar is stable with 22 neutrons
42Ar syn 32.9 y β- 0.600 42K

Argon ( IPA: /ˈɑːgɒn/) is a chemical element designated by the symbol Ar. Argon has atomic number 18 and is the third element in group 18 of the periodic table ( noble gases). Argon is present in the Earth's atmosphere at slightly less than 1%, making it the most common noble gas on Earth.


Argon and oxygen have approximately the same solubility in water and are 2.5 times more soluble in water than nitrogen. This highly stable chemical element is colorless, odorless, tasteless and nontoxic in both its liquid and gaseous forms. Argon is inert under most conditions and forms no confirmed stable compounds at room temperature. The creation of argon hydrofluoride (HArF), a metastable compound of argon with fluorine and hydrogen, was first reported by researchers at the University of Helsinki in 2000.

Although the neutral ground-state chemical compounds of argon are presently limited to HArF, argon can form clathrates with water when atoms of it are trapped in a lattice of the water molecules. Also argon-containing ions e.g. ArH+ and excited state complexes e.g. ArF are well known. Theoretical calculations on computers have shown several argon compounds that should be stable but for which no synthesis routes are currently known.


Canisters containing Argon Gas for use in extinguishing fire without damaging server equipment
Canisters containing Argon Gas for use in extinguishing fire without damaging server equipment
An argon and mercury discharge tube. The mercury vapour glows brightly when an electric current is passed through it while the argon acts as the current carrier.
An argon and mercury discharge tube. The mercury vapour glows brightly when an electric current is passed through it while the argon acts as the current carrier.

Argon is used in incandescent lighting and other applications in which diatomic nitrogen is not sufficiently inert. Argon will not react with the filament of light bulbs even at high temperatures. Other uses:

  • Argon is used as an inert gas shield in many forms of welding, including metal inert gas welding and tungsten inert gas welding.
  • as the gas of choice for the plasma used in ICP spectroscopy.
  • as a non-reactive blanket in the manufacture of titanium and other reactive elements.
  • as a protective atmosphere for growing silicon and germanium crystals.
  • as a gas for use in plasma globes.
  • as a gas for thermal insulation in energy efficient windows.
  • Argon-39 has been used for a number of applications, primarily ice coring. It has also been used for ground water dating.
  • Cryosurgery procedures such as cryoablation use liquified argon to destroy cancer cells.
  • Liquid argon is used in calorimetry in experimental particle physics.
  • Argon is used in technical scuba diving to inflate the dry suit, because it is inert and has low thermal conductivity.
  • Blue argon lasers are used in surgery to weld arteries, destroy tumors, and to correct eye defects.
  • Due to its inert qualities, it is commonly used by museum conservators to protect old materials or documents, which are prone to gradual oxidation in the presence of air.
  • Argon is used to keep open bottles of wine from oxidizing, and is used in a number of dispensing units and keeper cap systems.
  • Argon is used in winemaking as barrels are often topped off with the gas to displace oxygen, thus preventing the wine from turning to vinegar during the aging process.
  • Argon is used in surgery when doctors are working in areas where it is easy for the person to die from blood loss and dries up all the bleeding as soon as the cut is opened by a sharp tool with a pipe connected to it which blows argon gas onto the inscision


Argon ( Greek αργός meaning "inactive") was suspected to be present in air by Henry Cavendish in 1785 but was not discovered until 1894 by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay in an experiment in which they removed all of the oxygen and nitrogen from the air. Argon was also encountered in 1882 through independent research of H.F. Newall and W.N. Hartley. Each observed new lines in the colour spectrum of air but were unable to identify the element responsible for the lines. Argon became the first member of the noble gases to be discovered.

The symbol for Argon is now Ar, but until 1957 it was A.


Argon constitutes 0.934% by volume and 1.29% by mass of the Earth's atmosphere, and air is the primary raw material used by industry to produce purified argon products. Argon is isolated from air by fractionation, most commonly by cryogenic fractional distillation, a process that also produces purified nitrogen, oxygen, neon, krypton and xenon.

The Martian atmosphere in contrast contains 1.6% of argon-40 and 5 ppm of argon-36. The Mariner spaceprobe fly-by of the planet Mercury in 1973 found that Mercury has a very thin atmosphere with 70% argon, believed to result from releases of the gas as a decay product from radioactive materials on the planet. In 2005, the Huygens probe also discovered the presence of argon-40 on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.


Argon’s complete octet of electrons indicates full s and p subshells. This full outer energy level makes argon very stable and extremely resistant to bonding with other elements. Before 1962, argon and the other noble gases were considered to be chemically inert and unable to form compounds; however, compounds of the heavier noble gases have since been synthesized. In 2000, the first argon compounds were formed by researchers at the University of Helsinki. By shining ultraviolet light onto frozen argon containing a small amount of hydrogen fluoride, argon hydrofluoride (HArF) was formed. It is stable up to 40 kelvins (−233 ° C).


The main isotopes of argon found on Earth are 40Ar, 36Ar, and 38Ar. Naturally occurring 40K with a half-life of 1.250×109 years, decays to stable 40Ar (11.2%) by electron capture and by positron emission, and also transforms to stable 40Ca (88.8%) via beta decay. These properties and ratios are used to determine the age of rocks.

In the Earth's atmosphere, 39Ar is made by cosmic ray activity, primarily with 40Ar. In the subsurface environment, it is also produced through neutron capture by 39K or alpha emission by calcium. 37Ar is created from the decay of 40Ca as a result of subsurface nuclear explosions. It has a half-life of 35 days.

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