RICHARD MEGNA / FUNDAMENTAL PHOTOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RICHARD MEGNA / FUNDAMENTAL PHOTOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A domestic tungsten light bulb. The most important component within a bulb is the filament (seen lit up here), a coil of tungsten wire one hundredth of a millimetre thick with a melting temperature of about 2860 Celsius. When electricity flows through it the filament becomes incandescent without melting thanks to its high fusion temperature. Oxygen is also removed within the bulb in order to prevent the oxidation of the tungsten wire and then replaced with an argon- nitrogen inert mixture. Gradually, however, the metal filament evaporates and after a typical lifetime of about 1000 hours it will break.
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