Coronavirus: a portable UV device to disinfect surfaces

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Since the start of the coronavirus health crisis, there has been talk of disinfecting surfaces with UV lamps. Today, researchers are announcing that they are able to produce portable devices that emit ultraviolet light with enough intensity to perform this heavy task.

Last March, in its strategy to fight the coronavirus responsible for the covid-19 pandemic, China disinfected its buses with ultraviolet (UV) light. A solution well known to researchers to deactivate viruses and prevent them from reproducing. It is still necessary to have sufficiently powerful sources of UV radiation. And these are generally bulky.

But researchers at Penn State University in the United States are now proposing a new design that would make portable UV devices capable of effectively disinfecting surfaces affected by the coronavirus.

The essential UV transparent material

To overcome traditional discharge lamps, researchers rely on high performance light emitting diodes (LEDs), which are more portable, more durable, more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly. Such LEDs already exist. However, their performance is limited by the material used to manufacture the electrode. It must be transparent to UV so that the dose of ultraviolet light finally emitted is sufficient to kill the coronavirus.

And on paper, this material could be strontium niobate (SrNbO3). In practice, hopes have been confirmed. Researchers have even already found a deposition technique widely used in the industry – namely, sputtering – that would integrate strontium niobate films into UV LEDs at low cost.

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