Argon Discharge Lamps

Argon discharge lamps exist primarily in the negative glow format, and are a spin-off from the popular series of neon glow versions.  They once enjoyed some popularity in the USA, and for many years GE manufactured a number of argon-filled equivalents of its broad range of standard neon glow lamps.

The principal application of the argon discharge is as a small source of ultraviolet radiation.  On account of the very small amount of radiation that can be produced by this method, their applications were of course limited and rather specialised.  In nearly all cases the mercury discharge is a much more efficient source of UV radiation.  But mercury lamps are rather difficult to manufacture in extremely low power ratings of less than about one watt, and below that limit the argon lamp was favoured.  They found a number of niches in special military service, but one version, the AR-1 was sold in large numbers for the identification of fluorescent rocks and minerals.



AR-1 Argon mild ultra-violet source
c. 1960