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I don't know the right terms to frame the question but here it goes:

Neon and argon give their characteristic colors when a current is passed through them at low pressure. Balmer series etc, I understand what's going on there.

Other compounds like boron will give a nice green in a flame test. Boron in alcohol for example. But in an electrical discharge, nothing happens.
I'm not understanding where the difference is in the manner of exciting the boron atoms.

How can I find a compound that will give a strong green color with an electrical discharge, at low pressure (1 torr)?

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if you could produce atomic oxygen in your system, but this article may (or probably may not) give you some ideas along those lines: ann-geophys.net/30/695/2012/angeo-30-695-2012.pdf $\endgroup$ – airhuff Jan 29 '17 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ It would be a sealed tube like a neon light. I thought of Oxygen, but I don't think it would be a good idea, my only way to get the low pressure is with a vacuum pump. Oil, oxygen. :( Seems risky. $\endgroup$ – user103218 Jan 29 '17 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ There are certainly pumps available that would be safe, but you know your equipment and yea, don't go there if that could be an issue, :( indeed. $\endgroup$ – airhuff Jan 29 '17 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ Boron is not a gas. Related chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/53281/… $\endgroup$ – aventurin Jan 29 '17 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ Boron compounds can be. $\endgroup$ – user103218 Jan 29 '17 at 22:05

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