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Other compounds

Recently, there has been an interest in xenon compounds where xenon is directly bonded to a less electronegative element than fluorine or oxygen, particularly carbon. Electron-withdrawing groups, such as groups with fluorine substitution, are necessary to stabilize these compounds.

Numerous such compounds have been characterized, including:

  • C6F5–Xe+–N≡C–CH3, where C6F5 is the pentafluorophenyl group.
  • [C6F5]2Xe
  • C6F5–Xe–X, where X is CN, F, or Cl.
  • R–C≡C–Xe+, where R is C2F−5 or tert-butyl.
  • C6F5–XeF+2
  • (C6F5Xe)2Cl+

Other compounds containing xenon bonded to a less electronegative element include F–Xe–N(SO2F)2 and F–Xe–BF2. The latter is synthesized from dioxygenyl tetrafluoroborate, O2BF4, at −100 °C.

An unusual ion containing xenon is the tetraxenonogold(II) cation, AuXe2+4, which contains Xe–Au bonds. This ion occurs in the compound AuXe4(Sb2F11)2, and is remarkable in having direct chemical bonds between two notoriously non-reactive atoms, xenon and gold, with xenon acting as a transition metal ligand.

In 1995, M. Räsänen and co-workers, scientists at the University of Helsinki in Finland, announced the preparation of xenon dihydride (HXeH), and later xenon hydride-hydroxide (HXeOH), hydroxenoacetylene (HXeCCH), and other Xe-containing molecules. In 2008, Khriachtchev et al. reported the preparation of HXeOXeH by the photolysis of water within a cryogenic xenon matrix. Deuterated molecules, HXeOD and DXeOH, have also been produced.

Clathrates and excimers

In addition to compounds where xenon forms a chemical bond, xenon can form clathrates—substances where xenon atoms are trapped by the crystalline lattice of another compound. An example is xenon hydrate (Xe•5.75 H2O), where xenon atoms occupy vacancies in a lattice of water molecules. This clathrate has a melting point of 24 °C. The deuterated version of this hydrate has also been produced. Such clathrate hydrates can occur naturally under conditions of high pressure, such as in Lake Vostok underneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Clathrate formation can be used to fractionally distil xenon, argon and krypton.

Xenon can also form endohedral fullerene compounds, where a xenon atom is trapped inside a fullerene molecule. The xenon atom trapped in the fullerene can be monitored via 129Xe nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Using this technique, chemical reactions on the fullerene molecule can be analyzed, due to the sensitivity of the chemical shift of the xenon atom to its environment. However, the xenon atom also has an electronic influence on the reactivity of the fullerene.

While xenon atoms are at their ground energy state, they repel each other and will not form a bond. When xenon atoms becomes energized, however, they can form an excimer (excited dimer) until the electrons return to the ground state. This entity is formed because the xenon atom tends to fill its outermost electronic shell, and can briefly do this by adding an electron from a neighbouring xenon atom. The typical lifetime of a xenon excimer is 1–5 ns, and the decay releases photons with wavelengths of about 150 and 173 nm. Xenon can also form excimers with other elements, such as the halogens bromine, chlorine and fluorine.


Although xenon is rare and relatively expensive to extract from the Earth’s atmosphere, it has a number of applications.

Illumination and optics

Gas-discharge lamps

Xenon is used in light-emitting devices called xenon flash lamps, which are used in photographic flashes and stroboscopic lamps; to excite the active medium in lasers which then generate coherent light; and, occasionally, in bactericidal lamps. The first solid-state laser, invented in 1960, was pumped by a xenon flash lamp, and lasers used to power inertial confinement fusion are also pumped by xenon flash lamps.

Continuous, short-arc, high pressure xenon arc lamps have a colour temperature closely approximating noon sunlight and are used in solar simulators. That is, the chromaticity of these lamps closely approximates a heated black body radiator that has a temperature close to that observed from the Sun. After they were first introduced during the 1940s, these lamps began replacing the shorter-lived carbon arc lamps in movie projectors. They are employed in typical 35mm, IMAX and the new digital projectors film projection systems, automotive HID headlights, high-end “tactical” flash lights and other specialized uses. These arc lamps are an excellent source of short wavelength ultraviolet radiation and they have intense emissions in the near infra-red, which is used in some night vision systems.

The individual cells in a plasma display use a mixture of xenon and neon that is converted into a plasma using electrodes. The interaction of this plasma with the electrodes generates ultraviolet photons, which then excite the phosphor coating on the front of the display.

Xenon is used as a “starter gas” in high pressure sodium lamps. It has the lowest thermal conductivity and lowest ionization potential of all the non-radioactive noble gases. As a noble gas, it does not interfere with the chemical reactions occurring in the operating lamp. The low thermal conductivity minimizes thermal losses in the lamp while in the operating state, and the low ionization potential causes the breakdown voltage of the gas to be relatively low in the cold state, which allows the lamp to be more easily started.


In 1962, a group of researchers at Bell Laboratories discovered laser action in xenon, and later found that the laser gain was improved by adding helium to the lasing medium. The first excimer laser used a xenon dimer (Xe2) energized by a beam of electrons to produce stimulated emission at an ultraviolet wavelength of 176 nm. Xenon chloride and xenon fluoride have also been used in excimer (or, more accurately, exciplex) lasers. The xenon chloride excimer laser has been employed, for example, in certain dermatological uses.



Xenon has been used as a general aesthetic. Although it is expensive, anaesthesia machines that can deliver xenon are about to appear on the European market, because advances in recovery and recycling of xenon have made it economically viable.

Xenon interacts with many different receptors and ion channels and like many theoretically multi-modal inhalation aesthetics these interactions are likely complementary. Xenon is a high-affinity glycine-site NMDA receptor antagonist. However, xenon distinguishes itself from other clinically used NMDA receptor antagonists in its lack of neurotoxicity and ability its to inhibit the neurotoxicity of ketamine and nitrous oxide. Unlike ketamine and nitrous oxide, xenon does not stimulate a dopamine efflux from the nucleus accumbens. Like nitrous oxide and cyclopropane xenon activates the two-pore domain potassium channel TREK-1. A related channel TASK-3 also implicated in aesthetic. actions is insensitive to xenon. Xenon inhibits nicotinic acetylcholine alpha4beta2 receptors which contribute to spinally mediated analgesia. Xenon is an effective inhibitor of plasma membrane Ca2+ ATPase. Xenon inhibits Ca+ ATPase by binding to a hydrophobic pore within the enzyme and preventing the enzyme from assuming active conformations.

Xenon is a competitive inhibitor of serotonin 5HT3. While neither aesthetic. nor antinociceptive this activity reduces anesthesia-emergent nausea and vomiting.

Xenon has a minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) of 72% at age 40, making it 44% more potent than N2O as an aesthetic. Thus it can be used in concentrations with oxygen that have a lower risk of hypoxia. Unlike nitrous oxide (N2O), xenon is not a greenhouse gas and so it is also viewed as environmentally friendly. Xenon vented into the atmosphere is being returned to its original source, so no environmental impact is likely.


Xenon induces robust cardioprotection and neuroprotection through several a variety of mechanisms of action. Through its influence on Ca2+, K+, KATP\HIF and NMDA antagonism xenon is neuroprotective when administered before during & after ischemic insults. Xenon is a high affinity antagonist at the NMDA receptor glycine site. Xenon is cardioprotective in ischemia-reperfusion conditions by inducing pharmacologic non-ischemic preconditioning. Xenon is cardioprotective by activating PKC-epsilon & downstream p38-MAPK. Xenon mimics neuronal ischemic preconditioning by activating ATP sensitive potassium channels.

Xenon allosterically reduces ATP mediated channel activation inhibition independently of the sulfonylurea receptor1 subunit, increasing KATP open-channel time and frequency. Xenon upregulates hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1a).

Xenon gas was added as an ingredient of the ventilation mix for a newborn baby at St. Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, England, whose life chances were otherwise very compromised, and was successful, leading to the authorisation of clinical trials for similar cases. The treatment is done simultaneously with cooling the body temperature to 33.5 °C.


Gamma emission from the radioisotope 133Xe of xenon can be used to image the heart, lungs, and brain, for example, by means of single photon emission computed tomography. 133Xe has also been used to measure blood flow.

Xenon, particularly hyperpolarized 129Xe, is a useful contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the gas phase, it can be used to image empty space such as cavities in a porous sample or alveoli in lungs. Hyperpolarization renders 129Xe much more detectable via magnetic resonance imaging and has been used for studies of the lungs and other tissues. It can be used, for example, to trace the flow of gases within the lungs. Because xenon is soluble in water and also in hydrophobic solvents, it can be used to image various soft living tissues.

NMR spectroscopy

Because of the atom’s large, flexible outer electron shell, the NMR spectrum changes in response to surrounding conditions, and can therefore be used as a probe to measure the chemical circumstances around the xenon atom. For instance xenon dissolved in water, xenon dissolved in hydrophobic solvent, and xenon associated with certain proteins can be distinguished by NMR.

Hyperpolarized xenon can be used by surface-chemists. Normally, it is difficult to characterize surfaces using NMR, because signals from the surface of a sample will be overwhelmed by signals from the far-more-numerous atomic nuclei in the bulk. However, nuclear spins on solid surfaces can be selectively polarized, by transferrering spin polarization to them from hyperpolarized xenon gas. This makes the surface signals strong enough to measure, and distinguishes them from bulk signals.


In nuclear energy applications, xenon is used in bubble chambers, probes, and in other areas where a high molecular weight and inert nature is desirable. A by-product of nuclear weapon testing is the release of radioactive xenon-133 and xenon-135. The detection of these isotopes is used to monitor compliance with nuclear test ban treaties, as well as to confirm nuclear test explosions by states such as North Korea.

Liquid xenon is being used in calorimeters for measurements of gamma rays as well as a medium for detecting hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. When a WIMP collides with a xenon nucleus, it should, theoretically, strip an electron and create a primary scintillation. By using xenon, this burst of energy could then be readily distinguished from similar events caused by particles such as cosmic rays.

However, the XENON experiment at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy and the ZEPLIN-II and ZEPLIN-III experiments at the Boulby Underground Laboratory in the UK have thus far failed to find any confirmed WIMPs. Even if no WIMPs are detected, the experiments will serve to constrain the properties of dark matter and some physics models. The current detector at the Gran Sasso facility has demonstrated sensitivity comparable to that of the best cryogenic detectors, and the sensitivity was expected to be increased by an order of magnitude in 2009.

Xenon is the preferred propellant for ion propulsion of spacecraft because of its low ionization potential per atomic weight, and its ability to be stored as a liquid at near room temperature (under high pressure) yet be easily converted back into a gas to feed the engine. The inert nature of xenon makes it environmentally friendly and less corrosive to an ion engine than other fuels such as mercury or caesium. Xenon was first used for satellite ion engines during the 1970s. It was later employed as a propellant for JPL’s Deep Space 1 probe, Europe’s SMART-1 spacecraft and for the three ion propulsion engines on NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft.

Chemically, the perxenate compounds are used as oxidizing agents in analytical chemistry. Xenon difluoride is used as an etchant for silicon, particularly in the production of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil can be produced by reacting xenon difluoride with uracil. Xenon is also used in protein crystallography.

Applied at pressures from 0.5 to 5 MPa (5 to 50 atm) to a protein crystal, xenon atoms bind in predominantly hydrophobic cavities, often creating a high quality, isomorphous, heavy-atom derivative, which can be used for solving the phase problem.


Many oxygen-containing xenon compounds are toxic due to their strong oxidative properties, and explosive due to their tendency to break down into elemental xenon plus diatomic oxygen (O2), which contains much stronger chemical bonds than the xenon compounds.

Xenon gas can be safely kept in normal sealed glass or metal containers at standard temperature and pressure. However, it readily dissolves in most plastics and rubber, and will gradually escape from a container sealed with such materials. Xenon is non- toxic, although it does dissolve in blood and belongs to a select group of substances that penetrate the blood–brain barrier, causing mild to full surgical anaesthesia when inhaled in high concentrations with oxygen.

At 169 m/s, the speed of sound in xenon gas is slower than that in air due to the slower average speed of the heavy xenon atoms compared to nitrogen and oxygen molecules. Hence, xenon lowers the resonant frequencies of the vocal tract when inhaled. This produces a characteristic lowered voice timbre, an effect opposite to the high-timbred voice caused by inhalation of helium. Like helium, xenon does not satisfy the body’s need for oxygen. Xenon is both a simple asphyxiant and an aesthetic. more powerful than nitrous oxide; consequently, many universities no longer allow the voice stunt as a general chemistry demonstration. As xenon is expensive, the gas sulphur hexafluoride, which is similar to xenon in molecular weight (146 versus 131), is generally used in this stunt, and is an asphyxiant without being aesthetic.

It is possible to safely breathe heavy gases such as xenon or sulphur hexafluoride when they are in a mixture with oxygen; the oxygen comprising at least 20% of the mixture. Xenon at 80% concentration along with 20% oxygen rapidly produces the unconsciousness of general anaesthesia (and has been used for this, as discussed above). Breathing mixes gases of different densities very effectively and rapidly so that heavier gases are purged along with the oxygen, and do not accumulate at the bottom of the lungs. There is, however, a danger associated with any heavy gas in large quantities: it may sit invisibly in a container, and if a person enters a container filled with an odourless, colourless gas, they may find themselves breathing it unknowingly. Xenon is rarely used in large enough quantities for this to be a concern, though the potential for danger exists any time a tank or container of xenon is kept in an unventilated space.

Synopsis of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon


Posted 2018/04/20 by Stelios in Education

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