Breakthrough ultraviolet light development could help kill COVID-19 virus

Breakthrough ultraviolet light development could help kill COVID-19 virus

Ultraviolet (UV) light is a commonly used method for killing bacteria, but could it help with disinfecting areas contaminated with COVID-19? A breakthrough discovery of a new class of transparent conductors could be the answer.

Two UV infection control methods of killing bacteria currently exist, which use chemicals or ultraviolet radiation exposure as a form of disinfectant, using a 200 to 300 nanometre range. However, in order to kill the COVID-19 virus very high levels of ultraviolet light is required, which can be very costly.

Now, researchers from Penn State and the University of Minnesota have used the recent discovery of a class of transparent conductors that could allow for high levels of UV light that would kill the virus.

If scaled up successfully, the researchers believe that UV light could be used to disinfect public areas such as public transport, aeroplanes, and sports arenas.

Current UV devices fall short

The researchers believe that a handheld UV light device that emits high-intensity rays could help to kill the novel virus.

Roman Engel-Herbert, Penn State associate professor of materials science, physics and chemistry, said: “You have to ensure a sufficient UV light dose to kill all the viruses. This means you need a high-performance UV LED emitting a high intensity of UV light, which is currently limited by the transparent electrode material being used.”

To solve the problem the scientists wanted to develop high performance, portable diodes that can have a current applied to them for light transmission – however, they needed to be transparent to UV light. Finding the correct material was vital, and the scientists believed a recently discovered class of transparent conductors could offer the solution.

The material – strontium niobite – was provided by Japanese collaborators, which was then tested by the Minnesota and Penn State teams as transparent UV conductors.

Developing the conductors

Joseph Roth, doctoral candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State, commented: “There is currently no good solution for a UV-transparent electrode. Right now, the current material solution commonly employed for visible light application is used despite it being too absorbing in the UV range. There is simply no good material choice for a UV-transparent conductor material that has been identified.

“We immediately tried to grow these films using the standard film-growth technique widely adopted in industry, called sputtering. We were successful.

“While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realise that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate COVID-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in HVAC systems of buildings.”


  1. No. UVC kills the virus on smooth surfaces, that it reaches. VUV, or Vacuum UV, kills the virus using an even shorter UV wave that converts O2 to O3 (Ozone). Ozone kills the virus on the surface, and has greater penetration (similar to how air penetrates areas). The advantage of VUV is it reaches everywhere. The disadvantage is that it is the light is just as dangerous as UVC light (to eyes, skin, pets and plants). Also, VUV produces ozone, so people cannot be in the area for long when the light is activated, and the ozone must either be converted back to O2 (using UV), or vented.

      • No, I have worked with the UV-C before. Even the most powerful wavelength at 265nm can only kill the virus on their skins. On top of that, the UV-C is terrible for your retina and prolonged impact can cause skin cancer.

  2. i don’t think at any time soon we really kill the virus. we want to milk the virus scare for every dollar we can get. we have created a new covid-19 industry at the expense of people’s lives. mask of different style and fashion. every where for sale. Ladies don’t have to worry about how they look any more. men have to look beyond the mask and admire thee eyes and hope that there will be a pleasant smile will erupt from behind the mask. most of all he/she don’t have covid. Welcome to our new reality. Lear how to survive the Billionaires world high Jack; At this point only the supernatural powers can help us from there games. there are no place to hide , no one to complain to. regardless we all need to be rescue.

  3. Nothing is new under the sun! Ultraviolet light is part of sunlight! We are meant to thrive and be protected by sunlight for vitamin D, warmth, healthy skin, grow foods. Sunlight is known to kill bacteria and virus for many years. Unfortunately, we are exposed to chemicals in many forms all the time. From beauty creams, garden and farm pesticides, herbicides, sprays, hair sprays, perfumes, body sprays and even nanoparticles in suntan creams. From the tip of our nose to our toes, we douse ourselves with this stuff and wonder why we continue to have problems. Stuck in offices/factories/skin never exposed to sunlight, no wonder poor people suffer. However, killing this virus, using sunlight/ultraviolet on surfaces is only small part in eradicating the virus. What goes on inside our bodies is another matter.

  4. Suppose that UV lamps emitting the proper wavelength were aimed at the ceiling so that they would not shine directly onto people. Would that be sufficient to kill airborne covid-19 viri? Would the light reflected from the ceiling be dangerous to people?

  5. We have produced airtight ventilation machines using uv led, through air circulation, air is sucked into the machine, and strong ultraviolet radiation is carried out in the ventilation ducts to discharge safe air.

  6. scanson, the issue with UV air purifier solutions, like the ones they install in buses or metros, only kills covid-19 which is in the air, as it sanitize the air which is going through the machine. The problem is that COVID-19 in public transportation is either transmitted by people to people if it is packed (UV will not treat the air between 2 people… ) and it does not sanitize surfaces! Virus propagation in public transportation is by surfaces and high-frequency touch points. UV air purifier is totally inefficient for this… Ozone generators seems to be much more adequate for this at it does both air and surfaces
    We are producing ozone generators which are used worldwide for car fleets, ambulances, hospitals, public transport, hotel chains, aircrafts, supermarkets, restaurants, and even the residence of the Pope at the Vatican!


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