You've seen them in the clubs and on your Mom's camera. The Xenon flashtube can create a brilliant white incoherent light.

A Xenon bulb starts with a hollow glass container. Two electrodes are implanted in the tube, and the air inside the tube is removed. The vacuum is then filled with inert Xenon gas.

To create light, the electrodes are connected to a high voltage source. When the electrodes are charged, they become extremely hot in less than a second. The thermal energy of the electrodes cause the Xenon gas to ionize, and the bulb is lit. The Xenon gas gives off mostly blue and red light, which combined gives the familiar bluish-white light. The blue component of the spectrum is centered at about 500 nanometers in wavelength, and the red portion is centered around 800 nanometers in wavelength.

To produce the strobing effect, the high voltage is pulsed, which causes the Xenon gas to flash at the same rate. Xenon bulbs may be used as a normal light source for situations where a bright light is needed, but it is not very efficient.