LEDs are being commercially developed in the ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum for the first time this decade. The ultraviolet spectrum is a form of electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to the human eye, but it carries more energy than visible light and it travels at a higher frequency. UV LEDs are being developed these days thanks to their advantages over UV CFLs and UV mercury lamps.
What are they primarily used for?
UV LEDs have been primarily used in a process known as UV curing. In this process, high intensity UV light is used to instantaneously dry adhesives, inks, and coatings. This is done through a photochemical reaction in which the energy emitted by the UV light cures the relevant materials by the process of polymerization and not evaporation.
UV LEDs are also used for currency validation and they can be used to identify bodily fluids such as blood in crime scenes.
Advantages over UV CFLs and UV mercury lamps
UV LEDs have a much longer lifespan than their competition and are more environmentally friendly, especially when compared to mercury lamps. They also do not require any start up or cool down period and they emit little to no heat. UV LEDs will require a higher initial investment when compared to competing products, but they will repay themselves over time thanks to their longevity and their lower energy consumption.
What can UV LEDs be used for commercially?
As UV LED technology grows and the cost reduces, it will find greater use in our lives. UV LEDs are already being used for indoor gardening purposes. UV LEDs are believed to boost the antioxidant properties of most plants and can increase the lifespan of plants. They are especially useful for resin-producing plants like medicinal marijuana as they can magnify the medicinal property of the plant.
UV LEDs are excellent water sterilizers as they are very efficient at killing the harmful bacteria present in water. The technology is also adept at purifying air. However, UV LEDs cannot be used as LED bulbs, high bay LEDs or low bay LEDs due to their high amount of ionizing radiation.
As UV light is a form of ionizing radiation, we must be careful to control the amount of UV light that humans are exposed to. UV LEDs can easily damage the skin if adequate safety protocols are not followed.
As the technology grows, more applications of UV LEDs will come to the fore. LEDs are the future of lighting and UV LEDs are expected to completely replace their mercury and CFL counterparts in the near future.