TEL AVIV, Israel — Researchers from Tel Aviv University say ultraviolet light-emitting diodes, or UV-LED lights, are indeed capable of killing the coronavirus. Study authors say this revelation may revolutionize how the world battles COVID-19 and cleans various surfaces of harmful germs.
“The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus,” says Professor Hadas Mamane, Head of the Environmental Engineering Program at TAU’s School of Mechanical Engineering, in a university release. “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 sterilize the air sucked in and then emitted into the room.”
“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light,” the study leader continues. “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.”
UV-LED lighting kills COVID quickly, but it’s not ready for your house yet
A series of tests in pursuit of the ideal UV-LED irradiation wavelength conducted by the research team show a wavelength of 285 nanometers is nearly as efficient at killing the virus as a length of 265 nm. UV-LED light at 285 nm can kill over 99.9 percent of all coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, in less than 30 seconds.
Why not just use 265 nm UV-LED light? This lower wavelength is more expensive to buy in bulb form and also harder to find than 285 nm bulbs.
In the near future, researchers are hoping that UV-LED bulbs can be installed in air conditioning, vacuum, and water systems. This would make cleaning rooms, large surfaces, and other high-traffic spaces much easier.
It’s important to mention, however, that UV-LED isn’t safe for in-home use. Direct exposure to this type of light can lead to harmful side-effects.
The study is published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.