Many people associate ultraviolet (UV) waves with the sun–after all, they are what initiate the chemical reaction with melanin in our skin to create a suntan (or burn)–but there are many practical, even critical, uses for UV light that have been developed in recent years.
What is UV light?
UV light has a wavelength of 10 nanometers (nm) to 400 nm, making it virtually undetectable by the human eye (the visible spectrum is about 390 to 750 nm). But for something invisible, UV light is incredibly powerful, and Marktech has learned how to harness that power. We have developed a variety of UV LEDs with wavelengths ranging from 280 nm to 400 nm that are being integrated into many important advancements in technology.
UV LED curing
UV curing uses polymerization rather than evaporation to dry inks, adhesives, and coatings. Primarily performed at 395 nm, 385 nm, or 365 nm, most UV curing uses wavelengths that are a part of the UV-A spectrum (315-400 nm). The radiation in the UV light excites electrons of photosensitive compounds, creating a reaction that bonds molecules together. Once these molecular bonds are produced, the coating is considered cured (in short, converted from a liquid to a solid).
UV curing has several advantages over evaporative curing: it is a much quicker process and requires no solvents. And using LEDs for UV curing has additional benefits:
- Increased energy efficiency: You can expect to use 20% less energy with a UV LED, compared to conventional mercury-vapor UV lamps. Additionally, LEDs do not produce ozone gas with use (like mercury lamps do), and thus do not require a ventilation system.
- Longer life: UV LEDs can last for more than 20,000 hours; traditional mercury-vapor UV lamps typically last for just 2,000 hours.
- Less radiant heat: Up to 60% of the energy used to power mercury-vapor UV lamps is radiated back out of the lamp in the form of heat, which can easily damage or distort the item being cured. While UV LEDs do generate heat, that heat is wicked away from the lamp and emitted from the backside of the diode, not from the lamp, thus reducing the likelihood of heat damage to the cured item.
UV-A light has another increasingly-important application: the detection of counterfeit currency and documents. UV LED scanners are being used by airports, banks, and other institutions to view the complex fraud-prevention elements of passports, paper money, driver licenses, and more. The ability to use these UV LED scanning devices in well-lit settings (think airport security checkpoints) are an added benefit over older technologies.
Medical light therapy
UV LEDs are valuable in the medical field as well. The radiation from light in the UV-B spectrum (280-315 nm) helps the human body synthesize vitamin D. UV light is also used to treat a number of conditions ranging from neonatal jaundice to seasonal affective disorder to acne. The benefits of UV LEDs (versus conventional mercury-vapor UV lamps) for these medical applications include:
- Less heat production by the lamp
- A consistent, precise UV light emission, ensuring the proper medically-prescribed wavelength “dosage”
- Reduced treatment time as a result of higher radiance levels
- Lower energy consumption
What can kill pathogens (like viruses and bacteria), as well as critters like bed bugs, lice, and dust mites? UV light can! Disinfection and decontamination of surfaces, air, even water, can be achieved by using UV LEDs with an output in the UV-C spectrum (255-275 nm).
With similar benefits as other UV LEDs (less energy consumption, longer life, wavelength precision, no ozone creation), there is an added advantage of using UV LEDs for disinfection: reduction in the need for harmful chemical disinfectants. Hospitals, hotels, laboratories, and food processing facilities are among the many industries implementing this highly-effective disinfection solution.
Limitless UV LED potential with Marktech
These UV LED uses are just a fraction of the possible applications for this technology. So think about it: what do you want to build?
Marktech offers UV LED products that can be used for all of the above purposes, and more. We manufacture over 40 types of UV LEDs with wavelengths ranging from 280 to 400 nm in a variety of different configurations. And because accuracy and consistency of wavelength output is essential with UV products, we test every single UV LED unit we produce to ensure it meets our exacting quality standards.
Bring us your specifications; Marktech will match your needs to the right UV LED product. Or if you have an idea and need assistance bringing your invention to fruition, we can help with that too. With more than 25 years of experience and a level of customer service that is unmatched in the industry, Marktech and our team of expert engineers can help you create a proof-of-concept for your product, or we can provide guidance on ways to improve existing designs. Let’s get started today!