Most of us have seen our jobs impacted by this pandemic in one way or another. Mine is considered, by some loose reasoning, to be essential. Technically, we could be repairing power supplies for lights that illuminate medicine coolers. I already werk at home and all contact is via skype. My biggest threat here is the plastic and cardboard shipped from China. Or was.
Right now, in the LED and lighting industry, hair is on fire.
Businesses and governments are clamoring to panic-buy solutions to the economically stifling problem of uppity contagions. The magic bullets we seek may come in the form of high energy photons. Folks want a yes or no and quickly. They hear new terms like Far UV and UV-C and want they to see how far this can go to fixin’ everything.
Some facts, while there is still time for them…
The shortest wavelengths of the light spectrum are called ultraviolet and they are sub divided in two idioms- A B & C, and Near, Middle and Far. A or Near (or Soft) UV comes from the common black light and makes your shirt glow. C or Far (or Hard) UV comes from energizing certain substances and filtering out the undesired frequencies. If one of these little photonic buggers hits you, it can tear your DNA apart.
Live on earth evolved in a UV-C free environment. Every body is defenseless. Every body has to go away when serious ultraviolet cleansing is taking place. The current corona virus’s transmission habits favor busy environments where UV cannot be used to any effect. The flaming question is, is there a band of UV that hurts them but not us?
With light fixtures, it is potluck. There is no handy Light Piano for common light fixtures that can play any note or frequency we want. We don’t want expensive and unsightly frequency-mixing hydrogen lasers hanging from every ceiling. Put simplistically, we find stuff that emits light when excited and see if its frequency illuminates, hurts or burns other stuff. Decades ago, someone found some metal stuff that emits 470 nm or, diode-blue as we know it, and now we all live under the whitish glow of diodes and phosphors (with no significant UV content). UV LED’s are available now in the A and B range with 265 nm in the C range. 265 nm is not harmless and not the winning number. Other sources can emit less than 200 nm (the Far range) but must work from close-up and are too broadly lethal.
Some are saying the winning number is 222 nm. That is in the overlap range of Middle UV and UV-C. That means we (humanity-wise) have found a practical and reliable means of producing an exclusive band of UV. Never mind the chart, we want to brand it as Far UV. It sounds Far Out.
The examinations show that this note of the cosmic light piano nails the little corona buggers but does not penetrate bodily surfaces. Magic bullets indeed. However, the shorter the wavelength of UV, the more absorbable it becomes by tiny bits of stuff in our atmosphere. Hence, no natural UV-C source at the surface.
From my perch as a light fixture designer now charged with exploring ways to get in on this hot business opportunity, these are reliable if not extensively tested facts so far.
Beyond this point, the pitch begins to sound to my ears like Columbus claiming it is a few thousand miles westward to Japan. There are some hurdles. Visions of airport terminals with extra ceiling fixtures allowing all to carry on all normal-like in blissful ignorance of an invisible blessing from above are admirably visionary. I would give Chris the money to have at it anyway. There will be something to find.
Imagine healthcare workers passing through a purple portal for cleansings instead of a spray wash. Or chambers that clean stuff you bring home. Or under-the-cabinet UV sanitizers. Or curb-side disinfecting where we place items at the curbside and a big truck passes by with an intense spray of UV. How about a third major appliance in the laundry room?
None of this will necessarily end this pandemic but could be part of the containment scheme. UV sanitation may become a normal household routine for other good reasons.
There is a strong breeze of money in the sails. Technical treasure awaits ahead. Some find it all intoxicating. Beware of giddiness.
If this can destroy the virus and not every body, can we get that light inside the body?
Sounds a little dangerous. Passing through the purple portal might be like Picard’s hand passing through a temporal distortion. 20 years of aging in 20 seconds. Anyway, I’m in - how do I get my wind in the sail for the potential treasure?
I’m in - how do I get my wind in the sail for the potential treasure?
Dammit, Jim! I’m a engineer… not a broker!
“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting.”
— Donald Trump
Well, Nhoj, there you go.
A new direction to pursue courtesy of the President of the United States.
In the prez’s case, we could peer into his colon and find out how all those lackeys are managing to social distance in there. It must go on for miles.
Sometime in the next half hour, my area will get its UV Angels fly-over. It is for the health workers and should remind us all of how much we spent on useless warplanes instead of masks and stuff.
How about a twenty-one gun salute for the dead? Guns we got.
I would not be willing to put any UV source inside my body unless I find out a great deal more about it. My general rule of thumb is that ionizing radiation is just bad for you. If a light source can scramble a virus, it’s likely to be able to scramble something in my innards just as badly. While viruses are tiny by comparison to human cells, they are probably not that tiny compared to all the molecular gizmos and gadgets on human cell membranes that enable them to function as components of organs.