Properties and Characteristics of Noble Gases

Monica Massonette, Derrick Arrington
  • Author
    Monica Massonette

    I have been in the education world for about 8 years. I am currently a School Librarian. Before I worked as a School Librarian, I was a Middle School Science teacher. I also graduated from UNCW with an undergraduate degree in Biology. I look forward to helping others gain knowledge in the sciences.

  • Instructor
    Derrick Arrington

    Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

What are noble gases? See the noble gases definition and varieties. Learn about the properties and applications of noble gases, and what makes them unique. Updated: 08/17/2021

Table of Contents


What are Noble Gases?

In chemistry, the noble gases refer to the chemical elements that belong to Group 18 of the periodic table. This family of elements can be found on the far right end of the periodic table, in the last column. Noble gases are referred to as inert gases because they will not react with any other element on the periodic table. These gases are the least reactive gases because they have a full outer layer of valence electrons. This means that they will not form a bond with other elements on the periodic table.

The Noble Gases are in Group 18.

Noble Gases List

There are seven elements that are classified as noble gases. These elements are:

  • Helium: The symbol for helium is He. Its atomic number is 2 and helium is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere of Earth as well as on other planets.
  • Neon: The symbol for neon is Ne. Its atomic number is 10 and neon is a naturally occurring gas in the air.
  • Argon: The symbol for argon is Ar. Its atomic number is 18 and argon is a naturally occurring gas in the air.
  • Krypton: The symbol for krypton is Kr. Its atomic number is 36 and krypton is a naturally occurring gas in the air.
  • Xenon: The symbol for xenon is Xe. Its atomic number is 54 and xenon is a naturally occurring gas in the air.
  • Radon: The symbol for radon is Rn. Its atomic number is 86 and radon is a radioactive gas that is produced from the decay of heavy metals such as radium.
  • Oganesson: The symbol for oganesson is Og. Its atomic number is 118 and oganesson is a man-made radioactive element.

The noble gases that are naturally occurring in the air can be obtained through fractional distillation.

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Noble Gases Properties

Noble gases are also referred to as inert gases due to their nonreactivity with other elements. This characteristic of the noble gases is probably the one people remember the most. However, the noble gases also have other properties in common. Remember, the noble gases are in Group 18 of the periodic table and groups in the periodic table can also be referred to as families. This is because a group in the periodic table will exhibit common properties or characteristics. For the noble gases these include low reactivity, low boiling points, high ionization, complete valence shell, very low electronegativities, and they are colorless as well as odorless.

Physical Properties

Noble gases have similar physical properties, which is why they are found in a group together. Physical properties refer to the physical characteristics of an element, such as their boiling point, melting point, or solubility. In general, noble gases' physical properties include having a low boiling point and melting point as well as high ionization energies. They also have low interatomic forces.

By using their location on the periodic table, one can make predictions about some of these properties. For instance, their atomic radius can be predicted by using the periodic table. As we move down Group 18, we will notice that their atomic radius will increase because, as we move through each period on the periodic table, the elements increase in the number of electrons they contain. Furthermore, we can make predictions about their melting and boiling points. The element with the lowest boiling point and melting point is at the top of group, helium, and as you move down the groups their melting and boiling points increase. Therefore, the noble gas with the highest melting or boiling point is oganesson.

Chemical Properties

Chemical Properties refer to the ability of a substance to undergo a chemical reaction. These include color, odor, flammability, and reactivity to name a few. Noble gases have many different types of chemical properties. In general, noble gases are colorless, odorless, nonflammable, and have a low reactivity. Their low reactivity is because they have a complete set of electrons in their outer valence.

The periodic table can help determine how many layers of electrons an element will have. This is made possible by using the period or the rows in the periodic table. For instance, helium will have one layer of electrons, neon will have two layers of electrons, argon will have three layers of electrons, and so on. In order for an element to have a complete outer valence of electrons, the elements must have 2 or 8 electrons. Helium has 2 electrons in its outer layer and the other six have 8.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the properties of noble gasses?

Noble gases have similar physical and chemical properties. These include low melting point, low boiling point, colorless, odorless, nonflammable, and low reactivities.

What are the noble gases and what are they used for?

Noble gases are also referred to as inert gases because of there low reactivity. They are used in the medical industry and to conduct electricity. Also, in the production of light sources.

Are noble gases reactive?

Noble gases have a low reactivity. It was once thought that they did not create compounds but that has since been proven incorrect.

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