Published On: Wed, Dec 16th, 2020

LED lights found to kill coronavirus: Global first in fight against COVID-19

Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers found the optimal wavelength for killing 99.9% of the coronaviruses in less than half a minute.
LED Cabinet lighting on the top of cabinet or cupboard. Lighting design concept

COVID-19 can be killed efficiently, quickly, and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs), according to researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU). The researchers believe that the UV-LED technology will soon be available for private and commercial use.

This is the first study conducted on the purification effectiveness of UV-LED irradiation at different wavelengths or frequencies on the virus from the family of coronaviruses.

The study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, by Professor Hadas Mamane, Head of the Environmental Engineering Program at TAU’s School of Mechanical Engineering, is the first of its kind.

“The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus,” said Professor Mamane. “The problem is that in order to disinfect a plane bus, train, or sports hall, 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,” she explained. “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.”

The optimal wavelength for killing the coronavirus was found at a length of 285 nanometers (nm) was almost as efficient in disinfecting the virus as a wavelength of 265 nm, requiring less than half a minute to destroy more than 99.9% of the coronaviruses. This result is meaningful because the cost of 285 nm LED bulbs is much lower than that of 265 nm bulbs, and are more readily available.

Professor Mamane believes that technology will be available for use in the near future and will install the right wavelength bulbs in air conditions, vacuum, and water systems, and thereby be able to efficiently disinfect large surfaces and spaces.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Professor Yoram Gerchman of Oranim College; Dr. Michal Mandelboim, Director of the National Center for Influenza and Respiratory Viruses at Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer; and Nehemya Friedman from Tel Hashomer.

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