A Light Disinfectant
UVC chips – a new paradigm in UV light sources
Deep ultraviolet light can be used as an extremely efficient, non-chemical and safe method to disinfect surfaces because the light attacks and kills bacteria and viruses.
Filling a gap in the disinfectant market, scientists at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), led by Professor Hilmi Volkan Demir, together with their partner Lightlab Sweden have developed a proprietary deep ultraviolet light (UV-C) technology, based on cathodoluminescence on-chip, to kill bacteria and viruses.
Their small light chips can be manufactured at low cost and outperformed other disinfection technologies, including mercury lamps and UV-C light-emitting diodes (LEDs), in germicidal experiments.
Mercury arc lamps are most commonly used for disinfection purposes in water plants, but mercury is very toxic to people and harmful environmentally, so they cannot be used safely at large scale for consumer products such as refrigerators and dishwashers.
While UV-C LEDs have been considered as an alternative, their performance has been poor and efficient systems are unlikely in the near future.
The NTU EEE and Lightlab team’s invention is both mercury-free and highly-efficient. It also works instantly once switched on, unlike mercury lamps that take several minutes to warm up and radiate UV-C, can be used in both low-temperature and high-temperature operations, and has a long operational lifetime in intermittent applications.
TIn germicidal experiments, the chip reduced bacteria by about 99.999999 percent, two orders of magnitude better than mercury lamps, four orders of magnitude better than nano-silver antibacterial technology and five orders of magnitude better than UV-C LEDs.
“We developed the chip technology with low cost and high volume in mind, so it can be manufactured using wafer-scale technology principles, where a vast number of devices can be manufactured at the same time,” said Professor Demir.
He added that these light chips could be integrated into home appliances to disinfect surfaces; air-conditioner filters to disinfect air; and dishwashers and washing machines to disinfect filters and surfaces.
By Professor Hilmi Volkan Demir
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