infobox krypton

Krypton (pronEng|ˈkrɪptən or IPA|/ˈkrɪptɒn/; from _el. "kryptos" "hidden") is a chemical element with the symbol Kr and atomic number 36. It is a member of Group 18 and Period 4. A colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, krypton occurs in trace amounts in the atmosphere, is isolated by fractionally distilling liquified air, and is often used with other rare gases in fluorescent lamps. Krypton is inert for most practical purposes. Krypton can also form clathrates with water when atoms of it are trapped in a lattice of the water molecules.

Krypton, like the other noble gases, can be used in lighting and photography. Krypton light has a large number of spectral lines, and krypton's high light output in plasmas allows it to play an important role in many high-powered gas lasers, which pick out one of the many spectral lines to amplify. There is also a specific krypton fluoride laser. The high power and relative ease of operation of krypton discharge tubes caused (from 1960 to 1983), the official metre (metric distance) to be defined in terms of one orange-red spectral line of krypton-86.

Physical properties

Krypton is characterized by a brilliant green and orange spectral signature. It is one of the products of uranium fission.cite web |url= |title=Krypton |accessdate=2007-03-17 |year=2005 |month=08 |publisher=Argonne National Laboratory, EVS |pages=1 |language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] Solidified krypton is white and crystalline with a face-centered cubic crystal structure, which is a common property of all noble gases. The melting point of krypton is -157.2 degrees Celsius, and its boiling point is -153.4 degrees Celsius.


Krypton was discovered in Britain in 1898 by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in residue left from evaporating nearly all components of liquid air. [cite journal
title = On a New Constituent of Atmospheric Air
author = William Ramsay, Morris W. Travers
journal = Proceedings of the Royal Society of London
volume = 63
issue =
pages = 405–408
year = 1898
url =
doi = 10.1098/rspl.1898.0051
] William Ramsay was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovery of a series of noble gases, including krypton.

Metric role

In 1960, an international agreement defined the metre in terms of wavelength of light emitted by the krypton-86 isotope. This agreement replaced the longstanding standard metre located in Paris, which was a metal bar made of a platinum-iridium alloy (the bar was originally estimated to be one ten-millionth of a quadrant of the earth's polar circumference), and was itself replaced by a definition based on the speed of light — a fundamental physical constant. In October 1983, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (International Bureau of Weights and Measures) defined the meter as the distance that light travels in a vacuum during 1/299,792,458 s. [cite web |url= |title=How is the speed of light measured? |accessdate=2007-03-19 |last=Gibbs |first=Philip |year=1997| publisher=Department of Mathematics, University of California|language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]


The Earth has retained all of the noble gases that were present at its formation except for helium. Helium atoms are very light, and move fast enough to escape the earth's gravity readily. [Escape of Gases from the Atmosphere] Krypton's concentration in the atmosphere is about 1 ppm. It can be extracted from liquid air by fractional distillation. [cite web |url=|title=How Products are Made: Krypton|accessdate=2006-07-02 |format= |work= ] The amount of krypton in space is uncertain, as is the amount is derived from the meteoritic activity and that from solar winds. The first measurements suggest an overabundance of krypton in space. [cite web | url= |title=The Abundance of Interstellar Krypton |accessdate=2007-04-05 |last=Cardelli |first=Jason A. |authorlink= |coauthors=Meyer, David M. |date=18 |year=1996 |month=12 |format= |work=The Astrophysical Journal Letters | publisher=The American Astronomical Society | pages=L57–L60 | language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]


Like the other noble gases, krypton is chemically unreactive. However, following the first successful synthesis of xenon compounds in 1962, synthesis of krypton difluoride was reported in 1963.cite web |url=|title=The Noble Gases|accessdate=2006-07-02 |last=Bartlett |first=Neil |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year=2003|publisher=Chemical & Engineering News |pages= |language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= ] There are unverified reports of other fluorides and a salt of a krypton oxoacid. ArKr+ and KrH+ molecule-ions have been investigated and there is evidence for KrXe or KrXe+. [cite web |url= |title=Periodic Table of the Elements |accessdate=2007-04-05 |publisher=Los Alamos National Laboratory's Chemistry Division |pages=100-101 |language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]

At the University of Helsinki in Finland, HKrCN and HKrCCH (krypton hydride-cyanide and hydrokryptoacetylene) were synthesized and determined to be stable up to 40 K.


There are 31 known isotopes of krypton. [cite web |url= |title=Isotopes of Krypton |accessdate=2007-03-20 |publisher=Nuclear Science Division] Naturally occurring krypton is made of five stable and one slightly radioactive isotope. Its spectral signature can be produced with some very sharp lines. 81Kr, the product of atmospheric reactions is produced with the other naturally occurring isotopes of krypton. Being radioactive it has a half-life of 230,000 years. Krypton is highly volatile when it is near surface waters but 81Kr has been used for dating old (50,000 - 800,000 year) groundwater. [cite web |url= |title=Development of Laser-Based Resonance Ionization Techniques for 81-Kr and 85-Kr Measurements in the Geosciences |accessdate=2007-03-20 |last=Thonnard |first=Norbert |authorlink= |coauthors=Larry D. MeKay, Theodore C. Labotka |date=31 |year=2001 |month=12 |publisher=University of Tennessee, Institute for Rare Isotope Measurements |pages=4-7 |language=English |archiveurl=]

85Kr is an inert radioactive noble gas with a half-life of 10.76 years. It is produced by the fission of uranium and plutonium, such as in nuclear bomb testing and nuclear reactors. 85Kr is released during the reprocessing of fuel rods from nuclear reactors. Concentrations at the North Pole are 30% higher than at the South Pole as most nuclear reactors are in the northern hemisphere. [cite web |url= |title=Resources on Isotopes |accessdate=2007-03-20 |publisher=U.S. Geological Survey]


Krypton's multiple emission lines make ionized krypton gas discharges appear whitish, which in turn makes krypton-based bulbs useful in photography as a brilliant white light source. Krypton is thus used in some types of photographic flashes used in high speed photography. Krypton gas is also combined with other gases to make luminous signs that glow with a bright greenish-yellow light. [cite web |url= |title=Mercury in Lighting |accessdate=2007-03-20 |publisher=Cape Cod Cooperative Extension]

Krypton is mixed with argon as the fill gas of energy saving fluorescent lamps. This reduces their operating voltage and power consumption. Unfortunately it also reduces their light output and raises their cost. [ [ "Energy-saving" lamps] ] Krypton costs 100 times as much as argon. Krypton (along with xenon) is also used to fill incandescent lamps to reduce filament evaporation and allow higher operating temperatures to be used for the filament. [ [ Properties, Applications and Uses of the "Rare Gases" Neon, Krypton and Xenon] ] A brighter light results which contains more blue than conventional lamps.

Krypton's white discharge is often used to good effect in coloured gas discharge tubes, which are then simply painted or stained in other ways to allow the desired colour (for example, "neon" type advertising signs where the letters appear in differing colours, are often entirely krypton-based). Krypton is also capable of much higher light power density than neon in the red spectral line region, and for this reason, red lasers for high power laser light shows are often krypton lasers with mirrors which select out the red spectral line for laser amplification and emission, rather than the more familiar helium-neon variety, which could never practically achieve the multi-watt red laser light outputs needed for this application. [cite web|url=|title=Laser Devices, Laser Shows and Effect|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-04-05]

Krypton has an important role in production and usage of the krypton fluoride laser. The laser has been important in the nuclear fusion energy research community in confinement experiments. The laser has high beam uniformity, short wavelength, and the ability to modify the spot size to track an imploding pellet. [cite web |url= |title=Krypton Fluoride Laser Development for Inertial Fusion Energy |accessdate=2007-03-20 |last=Sethian |first=J. |authorlink= |coauthors=M. Friedman, M.Myers |publisher=Plasma Physics Division, Naval Research Laboratory |pages=1-8 |language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]

In experimental particle physics, liquid krypton is used to construct quasi-homogeneous electromagnetic calorimeters. A notable example is the calorimeter of the NA48 experiment at CERN containing about 27 tons of liquid krypton. This usage is rare, since the cheaper liquid argon is typically used. The advantage of krypton over argon is a small Molière radius of 4.7cm, which allows for excellent spatial resolution and low degree of overlapping. The other parameters relevant for calorimetry application are: radiation length of X_0=4.7cm, density of 2.4g/cm³.

The sealed spark gap assemblies contained in ignition excitors used in some older Turbine/Jet engines contain a very small amount of Krypton 85 in order to obtain consistent ionization levels and uniform operation. The amount of radiation from the average gap is approximately the same as that of a radium-dialed wrist watch but should be handled carefully.


Further reading

* [ Los Alamos National Laboratory - Krypton]
* "Chemical Elements: From Carbon to Krypton" By: David Newton & Lawrence W. Baker
* "Krypton 85: a Review of the Literature and an Analysis of Radiation Hazards" By: William P. Kirk.

External links

* [ – Krypton]
* [ Krypton Fluoride Lasers]
* [ Computational Chemistry Wiki]

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  • krypton — [ kriptɔ̃ ] n. m. • 1898; mot angl., du gr. kruptos « caché » ♦ Chim., Techn. Élément atomique (Kr; no at. 36; m. at. 83,80), gaz rare extrait des résidus d évaporation de l air liquide. Ampoule au krypton. ● krypton nom masculin (grec kruptos,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Krypton — Kr, Atomgew. 81,2, Mol. Gew. 81,2, der Gruppe der Edelgase angehörend und von Ramsay und Travers in der Luft neben Argon, Helium, Neon und Xenon (s.d.) gefunden. Während Helium und Neon im flüchtigsten Teil der Luft gefunden werden, erhält man… …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • krypton — inert gaseous element, 1898, coined by its discoverers (Sir William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers) from Gk. krypton, neuter of adjective kryptos hidden (see CRYPT (Cf. crypt)); so called because it was so difficult to find …   Etymology dictionary

  • krypton — [krip′tän΄] n. [ModL: so named (1898) by RAMSAY Sir William and M. W. Travers (1872 1961), Brit chemists, its discoverers < Gr krypton, neut. of kryptos, hidden (see CRYPT), in ref. to their difficulty in isolating it] a rare, gaseous chemical …   English World dictionary

  • Krypton — Kryp ton (kr[i^]p t[o^]n), n. [NL., fr. Gr. krypto n, neut. of krypto s hidden.] (Chem.) An inert gaseous element of the argon (noble gas) group, of atomic number 36, occurring in air to the extent of about one volume in a million. It was… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Kryptōn — Kryptōn, ein in der atmosphärischen Luft in sehr geringer Menge vorkommendes gasförmiges, farb und geruchloses Element vom Atomgewicht 81,8, bildet bei 152° eine farblose Flüssigkeit vom spez. Gew. 2,2 und strahlt in der Pücklerschen Röhre ein… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Krypton — Kryptōn, in sehr geringen Mengen in der Luft enthaltenes elementares Gas, farb , geruch , geschmacklos, chemisch sehr indifferent. Atomgewicht 82 …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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  • krypton — Symbol: Kr Atomic number: 36 Atomic weight: 83.80 Colorless gaseous element, belongs to the noble gases. Occurs in the air, 0.0001% by volume. It can be extracted from liquid air by fractional distillation. Generally not isolated, but used with… …   Elements of periodic system

  • krypton — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. mnż I, D. u, Mc. kryptonnie, blm, chem. {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} pierwiastek chemiczny, gaz szlachetny, bezbarwny i bezwonny, cięższy od powietrza, w stanie wolnym występuje w atmosferze ziemskiej, używany do wypełniania… …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • krypton — ► NOUN ▪ an inert gaseous chemical element, present in trace amounts in the air and used in some kinds of electric light. ORIGIN from Greek krupton hidden …   English terms dictionary

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