Until relatively recently there was no such thing as a commercially available ultraviolet (UV) LED light. But as LED technology continues to develop and power densities increase, UV LED lights are expanding into the market and replacing more traditional alternatives.
Ultraviolet (UV) light is an invisible form of electromagnetic energy (light energy) that travels at a higher frequency and carries more energy than visible light. UV lightwaves were originally called “chemical rays” when first discovered in the 19th century because of their ability to cause certain substances to change at the molecular level.
Here are a few examples of the many applications for UV LED lighting:
Industrial and Cosmetic Curing
UV curing is a process that uses UV light to instantly cure (or “dry”) inks, coating and adhesives through cross-polymerization of photosensitive materials. UV LED technology is emerging as an ozone gas- and mercury-free option for chemical curing with both industrial and cosmetic applications.
Nail polish cures have traditionally been done using unregulated UV lamps, but controversy arose earlier this year over a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology which reported a potential danger of skin cancer. The study found that LED lamps were much safer for this application, due to the lower frequency of UV light they emit.
Due to UV lighting’s ability to make certain materials visible to the human eye, it has been used for quite some time as an analytic tool. One common use for ultraviolet light sources is checking UV watermarks to validate currency, or identifying bodily fluids in forensic crime scenes.
Scientific and Biological
A 2012 study published in Applied Entomology and Zoology showed that UV LED lights were an effective method for dealing with the West Indian sweet potato weevil. This disagreeable insect is known for decimating sweet potato crops, and detection is difficult due to the fact that most adult activity happens during the night.
The study used a diffused UV LED light trap and a sacrificial sweet potato. This easily detected the pests, allowing farmers to take appropriate actions in response.
Sterilization and Disinfection
UV lighting is an excellent tool for air and water purification. In fact, in addition to avoiding the energy hungry dryer, another reason for hanging clothes outside to dry is that the sun’s natural UV light kills potentially harmful bacteria on clothes.
According to a 2007 study published in Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, UV LED light sources were able to deactivate bacteria in water. Due to the safety advantages and compact size of LED lights, the study reported that UV LED devices have great potential as water sterilization solutions.
UV LED lights are playing an increasing role in the trend toward indoor urban gardening. Using UV LED lights for your indoor harvest can increase production of polyphenols, which are believed to have antioxidant and anti-aging qualities. In addition to edible gardening, UV lights supposedly have beneficial applications for resin-producing plants such as medical marijuana by increasing potency of its medicinal properties.
Faroese physician Niels Finsen, the father of modern phototherapy, developed the first artificial UV light source to treat smallpox lesions. Although later eradication of smallpox rendered his technology irrelevant, UV phototherapy is used today to treat certain skin conditions including psoriasis and vitiligo as well as inhibit the growth of a certain type of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, researchers found that when used alongside other treatments, UV lights resulted in long-term remission among many patients in early stages of the disease.
For psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition caused by immune system malfunction, UV light works to suppress the immune system and reduce the inflammatory response.
Dangers of UV light
Exposure to UV radiation can damage skin and eyes if used without protection. Safety precautions should be used with UV LED lighting, with skin and eye protection used whenever possible.
Contact Flexfire LEDs to learn more
Are you interested in purchasing a UV LED light, or do you have any unanswered questions? Contact us or give us a call at (925)273-9080 and let one of our lighting specialists help you realize your LED project today.
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