It took a decade of work and the help of two Nobel laureates, but industrial pump manufacturer Nikkiso is finally gearing up for the mass production of deep ultraviolet light-emitting diodes.
These deep UV LEDs emit even shorter wavelengths of light than blue LEDs, and Nikkiso envisions applications for its deep UV LEDs in three broad fields: environmental, medical and industrial.
First is the environmental field, where the sterilizing effects of deep UV radiation can be put to use disinfecting water and sewage. This is already done using mercury lamps, but the new LEDs have many advantages: They are smaller and can run on lower voltage, around 5-7 volts. They are far more durable, lasting more than 10,000 hours, compared to around 3,000 to 5,000 hours for mercury lamps. Finally, they do not use toxic mercury.
The second field is medicine, where Nikkiso anticipates a wide range of applications in addition to the sterilization of medical instrumentation.
One example is dermatology, where selective dosing with different wavelengths of deep UV radiation can be used as a form of light therapy to treat skin disorders.
Another example is the measurement of the purity and density of proteins and DNA by combining the LEDs with photodetectors.
And Nikkiso has already incorporated the LEDs into its kidney dialysis machines as a way to check for the elimination of waste materials from the blood.
Industrial applications are the third promising field. Used with UV-hardening resins for bonding and coating processes, the LEDs can improve the efficiency of the production line because they can reach stable output much faster than mercury lamps, which take more time to warm up.