Far-ultraviolet LED Designed to Kill Bacteria and Viruses Efficiently Without Harming Humans

A highly efficient LED that is deadly to microbes and viruses but safe for people has been engineered in Japan by three RIKEN physicists. It could one day help countries emerge from the shadows of pandemics by killing pathogens in rooms full of people.

Most LEDs emit visible light, but RIKEN physicists have created an LED that emits in a narrow region in the far ultraviolet that is safe for humans but deadly for viruses and bacteria. 

Ultraviolet germicidal lamps are extremely effective at exterminating bacteria and viruses, and they are routinely used in hospitals to sterilize surfaces and medical instruments.

Such lamps can be made with LEDs, making them energy efficient. But these LEDs use ultraviolet light in a range that damages DNA and thus cannot be used around people. The hunt is on to develop efficient LEDs that shine light within a narrow band of far-ultraviolet light that appears to be both good at disinfecting and safe for people.

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