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About Xenon

Xenon Bohr

Xenon is a rare noble gas with abundance estimated at 0.1 ppm in Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s for this reason that xenon was one of the last gases to be isolated. As with other noble gases, it was isolated by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898 during their research on fractional distillation of liquefied air. To this day, xenon is only produced via this method, although efficiency has increased over the decades. Xenon was long thought to be completely inactive until it became the first noble gas to be synthesized into a chemical compound, the element bonding with a form platinum fluoride to form xenon hexafluoroplatinate. Scientific research since the 1960s has yielded several other exotic compounds, none which have yet produced any known applications outside of scientific circles.

Along withthe other noble gases like helium, xenon’s primary application is in lighting. Xenon produces an extremely bright bluish-white light useful in photographic flashes and lighting equipment. Strobe lights contain an amount of xenon for this reason. And because the light emitted by xenon is so strong, this element is also utilized in lasers and bacteria-killing ultraviolet light sources to sterilize lab equipment. In the medical industry, xenon is used as a general anesthetic, and several isotopes are utilized in the study of blood flow through the brain and lungs. Xenon is even used in ion thrusters for deep-space spacecraft. Observation of xenon content is also useful in dating events in the early solar system.

Xenon has eight stable isotopes (the most of any element next to tin), and over 40 known unstable isotopes, some of which are radioactive.  135Xe is often used as a neutron absorber that can slow or stop nuclear reactions, but Chernobyl has taught the scientific community that powering down a reactor without accounting for the ensuing buildup of xenon can further poison the whole reactor.  Along with 133Xe, 135Xe is also used as an observable barometer to monitor compliance with nuclear test ban treaties or to confirm that a nuclear detonation has taken place.  Liquid xenon is used in calorimeters for measurements of gamma rays and as a medium to detect weakly interacting massive particles.

Xenon Properties

Xenon Bohr ModelXenon is a Block P, Group 18, Period 5 element. The number of electrons in each of Xenon's shells is 2, 8, 18, 18, 8 and its electronic configuration is [Kr] 4d10 5s2 5p6. In its elemental form xenon's CAS number is 7440-63-3. The xenon atom has a covalent radius of 140± and it's Van der Waals radius is Xenon is present in the atmosphere and is commercially produced as a byproduct of the separation of air into oxygen and nitrogen. Xenon was discovered and first isolated by Sir William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers  in 1898. Xenon is named from the Greek word xenon meaning foreign or strange.

Xenon information, including technical data, properties, and other useful facts are specified below. Scientific facts such as the atomic structure, ionization energy, abundance on Earth, conductivity, and thermal properties are included.

Symbol: Xe
Atomic Number: 54
Atomic Weight: 131.3
Element Category: noble gases
Group, Period, Block: 18, 5, p
Color: colorless
Other Names: Xeno
Melting Point: -111.74°C, -169.132°F, 161.41 K
Boiling Point: -108.099°C, -162.578°F, 165.051 K
Density: 3560 (88 K) kg·m3
Liquid Density @ Melting Point: 3.057 g·cm3
Density @ 20°C: 0.00588 g/cm3
Density of Solid: 3640 kg·m3
Specific Heat: N/A
Superconductivity Temperature: N/A
Triple Point: 161.405 K, 81.77 kPa
Critical Point: 289.733 K, 5.842 MPa
Heat of Fusion (kJ·mol-1): 3.1
Heat of Vaporization (kJ·mol-1): 12.65
Heat of Atomization (kJ·mol-1): 0
Thermal Conductivity: 5.65×10-3  W·m-1·K-1
Thermal Expansion: N/A
Electrical Resistivity: N/A
Tensile Strength: N/A
Molar Heat Capacity: 5R/2 = 20.786 J·mol-1·K-1
Young's Modulus: N/A
Shear Modulus: N/A
Bulk Modulus: N/A
Poisson Ratio: N/A
Mohs Hardness: N/A
Vickers Hardness: N/A
Brinell Hardness: N/A
Speed of Sound: (liquid) 1090 m/s; (gas) 169 m·s-1
Pauling Electronegativity: 2.6
Sanderson Electronegativity: 2.34
Allred Rochow Electronegativity: 2.4
Mulliken-Jaffe Electronegativity: 2.73 (12.5% s orbital)
Allen Electronegativity: 2.582
Pauling Electropositivity: 1.4
Reflectivity (%): N/A
Refractive Index: 1.000702
Electrons: 54
Protons: 54
Neutrons: 77
Electron Configuration: [Kr] 4d10 5s2 5p6
Atomic Radius: N/A
Atomic Radius,
non-bonded (Å):
Covalent Radius: 140±9 pm
Covalent Radius (Å): 1.36
Van der Waals Radius: 216 pm
Oxidation States: 0, +1, +2, +4, +6, +8 (weakly acidic oxide)
Phase: Gas
Crystal Structure: face-centered cubic
Magnetic Ordering: diamagnetic
Electron Affinity (kJ·mol-1) Not stable
1st Ionization Energy: 1170.36 kJ·mol-1
2nd Ionization Energy: 2046.45 kJ·mol-1
3rd Ionization Energy: 3099.42 kJ·mol-1
CAS Number: 7440-63-3
EC Number: N/A
MDL Number: MFCD00083855
Beilstein Number: N/A
SMILES Identifier: [Xe]
InChI Identifier: InChI=1S/Xe
PubChem CID: 23991
ChemSpider ID: 22427
Earth - Total: 0.0168E-8 cm^3/g
Mercury - Total: N/A
Venus - Total: 1.61E-8 cm^3/g 
Earth - Seawater (Oceans), ppb by weight: 0.005
Earth - Seawater (Oceans), ppb by atoms: 0.00024
Earth -  Crust (Crustal Rocks), ppb by weight: 0.02
Earth -  Crust (Crustal Rocks), ppb by atoms: 0.003
Sun - Total, ppb by weight: N/A
Sun - Total, ppb by atoms: N/A
Stream, ppb by weight: N/A
Stream, ppb by atoms: N/A
Meterorite (Carbonaceous), ppb by weight: N/A
Meterorite (Carbonaceous), ppb by atoms: N/A
Typical Human Body, ppb by weight: N/A
Typical Human Body, ppb by atom: N/A
Universe, ppb by weight: 10
Universe, ppb by atom: 0.09
Discovered By: William Ramsay and Morris Travers
Discovery Date: 1898
First Isolation: William Ramsay and Morris Travers (1898)

Health, Safety & Transportation Information for Xenon

Xenon compounds are considered to be toxic although xenon itself is not. The below applies to elemental xenon.

Safety Data
Material Safety Data Sheet MSDS
Signal Word Warning
Hazard Statements H280
Hazard Codes N/A
Risk Codes N/A
Safety Precautions N/A
RTECS Number N/A
Transport Information UN 2036 2.2
WGK Germany 1
Globally Harmonized System of
Classification and Labelling (GHS)
Gas Cylinder - Gases Under Pressure

Xenon Isotopes

Naturally occurring xenon (Xe) has eight stable isotopes: 124Xe, 126Xe, 128Xe, 129Xe, 130Xe, 131Xe, 132Xe, and 134Xe

Nuclide Isotopic Mass Half-Life Mode of Decay Nuclear Spin Magnetic Moment Binding Energy (MeV) Natural Abundance
(% by atom)
110Xe109.94428(14)310(190) ms [105(+35-25) ms]ß+ to 110I; a to 106Te0+N/A883.96-
111Xe110.94160(33)#740(200) msß+ to 111I; a to 107Te5/2+#N/A892.04-
112Xe111.93562(11)2.7(8) sß+ to 112I; a to 108Te0+N/A909.44-
113Xe112.93334(9)2.74(8) sß+ to 113I; ß+ + p to 112Te; a to 109Te; ß+ + a to 109Sb(5/2+)#N/A917.52-
114Xe113.927980(12)10.0(4) sß+ to 114I0+N/A934.91-
115Xe114.926294(13)18(4) sß+ to 115I; ß+ + p to 114Te; ß+ + a to 111Sb(5/2+)N/A942.99-
116Xe115.921581(14)59(2) sß+ to 116I0+N/A951.07-
117Xe116.920359(11)61(2) sß+ to 117I; ß+ + p to 116Te5/2(+)N/A959.15-
118Xe117.916179(11)3.8(9) minß+ to 118I0+N/A976.54-
119Xe118.915411(11)5.8(3) minß+ to 119I5/2(+)N/A984.62-
120Xe119.911784(13)40(1) minß+ to 120I0+N/A992.7-
121Xe120.911462(12)40.1(20) minß+ to 121I(5/2+)N/A1000.78-
122Xe121.908368(12)20.1(1) hEC to 122I0+N/A1018.17-
123Xe122.908482(10)2.08(2) hEC to 123I1/2+N/A1026.25-
124Xe123.905893(2)Observationally Stable-0+N/A1034.330.09
125Xe124.9063955(20)16.9(2) hEC to 125I1/2(+)N/A1042.41-
126Xe125.904274(7)Observationally Stable-0+N/A1050.490.09
127Xe126.905184(4)36.345(3) dEC to 127I1/2+N/A1058.57-
133Xe132.9059107(26)5.2475(5) dß- to 133Cs3/2+0.8131107.04-
134Xe133.9053945(9)Observationally Stable-0+N/A1115.1210.44
135Xe134.907227(5)9.14(2) hß- to 135Cs3/2+0.9031123.2-
136Xe135.907219(8)2.165x 1017 y- to 136Ba0+N/A1131.288.87
137Xe136.911562(8)3.818(13) minß- to 137Cs7/2-N/A1130.04-
138Xe137.91395(5)14.08(8) minß- to 138Cs0+N/A1138.12-
139Xe138.918793(22)39.68(14) sß- to 139Cs3/2-N/A1146.2-
140Xe139.92164(7)13.60(10) sß- to 140Cs0+N/A1144.96-
141Xe140.92665(10)1.73(1) sß- to 141Cs; ß- + n to 140Cs5/2(-#)N/A1153.04-
142Xe141.92971(11)1.22(2) sß- to 142Cs; ß- + n to 141Cs0+N/A1161.12-
143Xe142.93511(21)#0.511(6) sß- to 143Cs5/2-N/A1159.88-
144Xe143.93851(32)#0.388(7) sß- to 144Cs; ß- + n to 143Cs0+N/A1167.96-
145Xe144.94407(32)#188(4) msß- to 145Cs(3/2-)#N/A1166.72-
146Xe145.94775(43)#146(6) msß- to 146Cs0+N/A1174.8-
147Xe146.95356(43)#130(80) ms [0.10(+10-5) s]ß- to 147Cs; ß- + n to 146Cs3/2-#N/A1173.56-
Xenon Elemental Symbol

Recent Research & Development for Xenon

  • Synthesis of Cryptophanes with Two Different Reaction Sites: Chemical Platforms for Xenon Biosensing.2015 Jun 19Chapellet LL, Cochrane JR, Mari E, Boutin C, Berthault P, Brotin T. J Org Chem. 2015 Jun 19
  • Crystal structure of bis-(fluoro-sulfato-κO)xenon(II), Xe(SO3F)2.2015 Mar 14Malischewski M, Seppelt K. Acta Crystallogr E Crystallogr Commun. 2015 Mar 14
  • Circular and linear magnetic birefringences in xenon at λ = 1064 nm.2015 Mar 28Cadène A, Fouché M, Rivère A, Battesti R, Coriani S, Rizzo A, Rizzo C. J Chem Phys. 2015 Mar 28
  • Safety and feasibility of xenon as an adjuvant to sevoflurane anaesthesia in children undergoing interventional or diagnostic cardiac catheterization: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.2015 Mar 4Devroe S, Lemiere J, Van de Velde M, Gewillig M, Boshoff D, Rex S. Trials. 2015 Mar 4
  • Effect of inert gas xenon on the functional state of nucleated cells of peripheral blood during freezing.2015 Mar-AprLaptev DS, Polezhaeva TV, Zaitseva OO, Khudyakov AN, Utemov SV, Knyazev MG, Kostyaev AA. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2015 Mar-Apr
  • Microscopic properties of xenon plasmas for density and temperature regimes of laboratory astrophysics experiments on radiative shocks.2015 MayRodríguez R, Espinosa G, Gil JM, Stehlé C, Suzuki-Vidal F, Rubiano JG, Martel P, Mínguez E. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2015 May
  • Is the pulsed xenon ultraviolet light no-touch disinfection system effective on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the absence of manual cleaning?2015 May 23Jinadatha C, Villamaria FC, Restrepo MI, Ganachari-Mallappa N, Liao IC, Stock EM, Copeland LA, Zeber JE. Am J Infect Control. 2015 May 23
  • Detecting pulmonary capillary blood pulsations using hyperpolarized xenon-129 chemical shift saturation recovery (CSSR) MR spectroscopy.2015 May 28Ruppert K, Altes TA, Mata JF, Ruset IC, Hersman FW, Mugler JP 3rd. Magn Reson Med. 2015 May 28
  • Characterization of Darai Limestone Composition and Porosity Using Data-Constrained Modeling and Comparison with Xenon K-Edge Subtraction Imaging.2015 May 29Mayo SC, Yang SY, Pervukhina M, Clennell MB, Esteban L, Irvine SC, Siu KK, Maksimenko AS, Tulloh AM. Microsc Microanal. 2015 May 29
  • Collateral Ventilation Quantification Using Xenon-Enhanced Dynamic Dual-Energy CT: Differences between Canine and Swine Models of Bronchial Occlusion.2015 May-JunPark EA, Goo JM, Park SJ, Lee CH, Park CM. Korean J Radiol. 2015 May-Jun