Al: aluminum
O: oxygen
Ne: neon

Under fire, aluminum powder reacts with oxygen in the air to form aluminum oxide. Neon, a stable element that doesn’t react, does have an effect. Its presence in the atmosphere affects oxygen flow and changes the way the aluminum oxide layer forms.

Al2O3Ne was constructed in a lab at the University of Chicago in order to study its physical tendencies and how it reacts in space. The experiment was conducted with Andrzej Latka, a Ph.D. student in U of C's Nagel Group.

Wireframe molecule of Al2O3Ne

Building Al2O3Ne

The combination of Al2O3Ne using aluminum powder, oxygen, applied neon, and fire.

The same combination of Al2O3Ne as above, only using Schlieren imaging–a setup of lenses and light beams that magnify the reaction and make the oxygen and neon gas visible.