Neon Bulbs in a Microwave

I picked up a Rockby order from the post office today, one item in the box was 400 NE-2 Neon glow lamps which were on special. I love NE-2 bulbs, they are quite useful to have around the lab.

So what on earth do you do with a fresh bag of 400 NE-2s? Microwave them of course! I whacked them in the microwave just laying on the plate in the bag they came in along with a glass of water as a moderating load, then dialled up few seconds and hit start. The bulbs light up brighter than a metal fuelled road fusee.

NE-2 Bulbs in a Microwave
NE-2 Bulbs in a Microwave
(4.022 Mbytes)

Naturally the girlfriend had to come in and spoil the fun! But note how the microwave doesn't actually start generating RF immediately, and how the electrode in one bulb was heated to incandescence by the hot plasma discharge. After this abuse the bulbs were only just warm to the touch and the bag was unharmed. I'm sure if I allowed the discharge to continue for an extended period things would start to melt.