Germicide with UVC light. New LED emitter developed to kill microorganisms

Each year in Germany there are 400,000 to 600,000 infections from hospital germs that roughly 10,000 to 20,000 people die from, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Multi-drug-resistant organisms (MDROs) often cannot be treated with antibiotics, so they call for alternative methods. One promising physical treatment mechanism is irradiation with UVC light. It is hoped that a recently developed UVC LED emitter will kill microorganisms without any side effects and without resistance developing. As part of their GaN Optoelectronics joint lab, the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik (FBH) and the Technical University of Berlin have developed LEDs in the far-ultraviolet spectrum. They emit at wavelengths around 230 nm and produce more than one milliwatt of output power. Their light does not enter the living layers of the skin thanks to the high absorption. It is therefore expected that the skin will not be damaged or only damaged to such a little extent that the natural repair mechanisms will be able to compensate for the effect. The researchers hope that this will be able to kill off MDROs without lasting side effects. A prototype of the emitter has been delivered to Charité university hospital in Berlin for initial tests. The aim is for the UVC beam to be developed in such a way that pathogens will be destroyed in difficult-to-reach places. Interestingly, the system may also be useful for combating the current pandemic since viruses can be destroyed similarly using short-wave UVC light.

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