While there was no possible solution to the strict diode requirements before, a newly discovered class of transparent conductors could be the key. The new material is strontium niobate.
After receiving strontium niobate from the Japanese collaborators, they proceeded in making the film for the diodes. The film will replace the original strontium vanadate, which falls short in providing the needed UV light intensity. Penn State’s Joseph Roth announced that they were successful in their goal.
Their research concluded that “strontium niobate is a suitable electrode material for high-performance UV light-emitting diodes for sanitation applications.”
With this study, experts know that a personal, hand-held UV light-emitting device is now feasible. Surely, we’ll still have to wait for further studies and on whether or not it’ll available to the general public.
UV Light and Its Dangers to the Body
Now that we have partially answered the question, can UV light kill coronaviruses, let’s proceed to some very important reminders. Generally, we understand that UV light or radiation poses some dangers. But what are these dangers and how will it affect us?
According to Dan Arnold of UV Light Technology, a company that provides disinfecting technology to different institutions, killing COVID-19 with UV light would “literally fry people.”
You see, there are three types of UV light from the sun and only one is capable of possibly killing the COVID-19 virus. Our skin can readily absorb the first type: UVA. UVA accounts for 80% of skin aging and wrinkling. Another type is UVB, which is harsher and could destroy the skin’s DNA, resulting in sunburn and possibly, skin cancer. Many sun creams in the market can “block” these two types of UV light.
The third, even more dangerous type, is the UVC. This one is highly dangerous, but we won’t have to worry about it because our ozone layer “filters” it. Scientists, however, have found a way to harness it for decontamination and sterilization purposes.
So, as an additional answer to the question, can UV light kill coronaviruses, we can say that UVC can. This is because it can “reliably inactivate” them. However, Arnold emphasizes that humans shouldn’t be exposed to it.
Arnold explains that while it’ll take hours of exposure to UVB before a person acquires sunburn, with UVC it’ll only take seconds. He added that if your eyes get exposed to it, you’ll get 10x the hurt you feel when you accidentally looked at the sun.
A New Type of UVC
Just recently, scientists have discovered a subtype of UVC, called Far-UVC. From the latest experiments, researchers concluded that this type does not damage the skin’s DNA. Still, we need more confirmatory tests. The downside is that Far-UVC cannot properly reach viruses and bacteria as they are “too small.” Despite this, it’s a promising angle to look into since some studies show it can prevent would infection in mice. Other experiments showed that it can also kill flu viruses suspended in the air.