Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus, and in a paper published this month researchers from Tel Aviv University announced they have found a way to kill this coronavirus efficiently, quickly and cheaply.
In fact, their method takes less than half a minute to destroy over 99.9% of the guilty coronaviruses.
Long before Covid-19 arrived, Professor Hadas Mamane, head of the Environmental Engineering Program at Tel Aviv University’s School of Mechanical Engineering and her team had been working on UV-LEDs.
Ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) produce radiation that is commonly used to kill bacteria and viruses.
When Covid-19 started sweeping the world, her team decided to see if they could use UV LED radiation to destroy the virus that causes it.
“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light,” said Mamane, who undertook the study with Professor Yoram Gerchman and Dr Michal Mandelboim.
“Our results suggest that the sensitivity of human coronavirus was wavelength dependent,” she said. “We then studied LEDs of different frequencies to see which is most efficient.”
The team’s research has now been published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.
Mamane explained to the Jerusalem Post a little of the science.
LEDs come in basic UV wavelengths A, B and C.
UV-A is the one with the effective killer wavelengths.
For humans, UV-A is what creates vitamin D in the body, but it is also what causes sunburns and, in some cases, skin cancer.
Also, when used via UV-LED bulbs it is especially effective in disinfection.
“Medical staff do not have time to manually disinfect computer keyboards and other surfaces in hospitals,” said Mamane. “But disinfection systems based on LED bulbs, can be installed in ventilation and air-conditioning systems, for example, and sterilise the air which passes through them.”
The team discovered how to kill the virus using cheap and readily available UV-LED bulbs which, unlike regular UV lamps, consume little energy, contain no mercury and can be turned on and off instantly.
“We are also developing a transparent coating that can be sprayed on surfaces and can kill viruses using visible light LEDs that are not dangerous to humans.”
The team envisages installing bulbs in air-conditioning, vacuum and water systems, and so disinfecting large areas.
She tells the Post that UV LEDs have a bright future for virus killing.
“Of course, when it comes to ultraviolet radiation, people must realise it’s dangerous to try to use it to disinfect their homes,” she warns. “It’s vital to know how to do it without being exposed to the light.”
Mamane believes that this technology will significantly ease the scourge of Covid-19 and other viruses.