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A-Z of Archaeology: 'K - K-Ar Dating' (Potassium - Argon Dating)
Air-free technique Argon may be used as the inert gas within Schlenk lines and gloveboxes. It is used for the specific way it ionizes and emits light, such as in plasma globes and calorimetry in experimental particle physics. Argon is denser than air and displaces oxygen close to the ground during gassing. However it was not widely recognised at that time. Neutrino experiments include ICARUS and MicroBooNE , both of which use high-purity liquid argon in a time projection chamber for fine grained three-dimensional imaging of neutrino interactions. High-purity chemicals and pharmaceuticals are sometimes packed and sealed in argon. The procedure carries a risk of producing gas embolism and has resulted in the death of at least one patient. Compared to xenon , argon is cheaper and has a distinct scintillation time profile, which allows the separation of electronic recoils from nuclear recoils. Argon is a chemically inert gas. Two-phase detectors containing argon gas are used to detect the ionized electrons produced during the WIMP—nucleus scattering. About , tonnes of argon are produced worldwide every year. Because of this, it is used in potassium—argon dating to determine the age of rocks. The interaction between the hypothetical WIMPs and an argon nucleus produces scintillation light that is detected by photomultiplier tubes. In winemaking , argon is used in a variety of activities to provide a barrier against oxygen at the liquid surface, which can spoil wine by fueling both microbial metabolism as with acetic acid bacteria and standard redox chemistry. Argon is the cheapest alternative when nitrogen is not sufficiently inert.
Argon is preferable to the helium that had been used in the preceding five decades, because helium gas escapes through the intermolecular pores in most containers and must be regularly replaced. This discovery caused the recognition that argon could form weakly bound compounds, even though it was not the first. Preservative[ edit ] A sample of caesium is packed under argon to avoid reactions with air Argon is used to displace oxygen- and moisture-containing air in packaging material to extend the shelf-lives of the contents argon has the European food additive code E On the other hand, its intrinsic beta-ray background is larger due to 39 Ar contamination, unless one uses argon from underground sources, which has much less 39 Ar contamination. Other noble gases would be equally suitable for most of these applications, but argon is by far the cheapest. Air-free technique Argon may be used as the inert gas within Schlenk lines and gloveboxes. However it was not widely recognised at that time. Argon is inexpensive, since it occurs naturally in air and is readily obtained as a byproduct of cryogenic air separation in the production of liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen: It forms at pressures between 4. In , the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA added argon and xenon to the list of prohibited substances and methods, although at this time there is no reliable test for abuse. The bulk of argon applications arise simply because it is inert and relatively cheap. Miscellaneous uses[ edit ] Argon is used for thermal insulation in energy-efficient windows. Two-phase detectors containing argon gas are used to detect the ionized electrons produced during the WIMP—nucleus scattering. Argon gas is also commonly used for sputter deposition of thin films as in microelectronics and for wafer cleaning in microfabrication. Argon has low thermal conductivity. Also, potassium—argon dating and related argon-argon dating is used to date sedimentary , metamorphic , and igneous rocks. Argon is sometimes used as the propellant in aerosol cans for such products as varnish , polyurethane , and paint, and to displace air when preparing a container for storage after opening. Argon is denser than air and displaces oxygen close to the ground during gassing. It is used in a procedure called "argon-enhanced coagulation", a form of argon plasma beam electrosurgery. Before , 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. Because of this, it is used in potassium—argon dating to determine the age of rocks. Argon is also used for blue and green argon-ion lasers. The 39 Ar activity in the atmosphere is maintained by cosmogenic production through the knockout reaction 40 Ar n,2n 39 Ar and similar reactions. For some of these processes, the presence of nitrogen or oxygen gases might cause defects within the material. An argon atmosphere is also used for growing crystals of silicon and germanium. Industrial processes[ edit ] Argon is used in some high-temperature industrial processes where ordinarily non-reactive substances become reactive.
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