COVID-19-killing UV-LED light coming, say Israeli researchers

Health

COVID-19-killing UV-LED light coming, say Israeli researchers

Sunday, January 03, 2021

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Researchers at Tel Aviv University claim to have shown that the coronavirus can be killed efficiently, quickly, and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs). They believe that the UV-LED technology will soon be available for private and commercial use.

“The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus,” said Professor Hadas Mamane who led the study. She is head of the environmental engineering programme at TAU's school of mechanical engineering, Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. “The problem is that in order to disinfect a bus, train, sports hall, or plane by chemical spraying, you need physical manpower, and in order for the spraying to be effective you have to give the chemical time to act on the surface. Disinfection systems based on LED bulbs, however, can be installed in the ventilation system and air conditioner, for example, and sterilise the air sucked in and then emitted into the room.”

UV light's ability to harm the virus became a controversial issue last April after US President Donald Trump touted it, along with injecting disinfectant into the body, as possible ways to cure COVID-19. He was widely ridiculed for the comments.

The Tel Aviv researchers, who have added an LED component, claim their study is the first conducted on the disinfection efficiency of UV-LED irradiation, at different wavelengths or frequencies, on a virus from the family of coronaviruses. Their article was published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.

“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light,” Professor Mamane explained. “We killed the viruses using cheaper and more readily available LED bulbs, which consume little energy and do not contain mercury like regular bulbs. Our research has commercial and societal implications, given the possibility of using such LED bulbs in all areas of our lives, safely and quickly.”

Eventually, as the science develops, the industry will be able to make the necessary adjustments and install the bulbs in robotic systems or air conditioning, vacuum, and water systems, and thereby be able to efficiently disinfect large surfaces and spaces, they said. Professor Mamane believes that the technology will be available for use in the near future.

The researchers have stressed that it is very dangerous to try to use this method to disinfect surfaces inside homes. To be fully effective, a system must be designed so that a person is not directly exposed to the light, they said.

In the future, the researchers will test their unique combination of integrated damage mechanisms – and more ideas they recently developed – on combined, efficient, direct and indirect damage to bacteria and viruses on different surfaces, air, and water.


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