LED solutions engineer expands on the role of emitters in UV webcast

Sept. 24, 2021
An engineering specialist thinks outside the box containing UV disinfection technology to address additional potential of LEDs and photonics-based sensors.

In case you missed it, we had a great webcast* yesterday with ams Osram systems solution engineer Chris Eichelberger presenting. At the outset, Eichelberger did not assume all attendees were familiar with the device physics of ultraviolet C-Band (UV-C) LEDs, and he provided great detail on the typical epitaxial architecture, characteristics of various wavelengths, and how efficiently they are produced both by LED sources and conventional mercury lamp-based products. You can refer back to some of that in an article written by chief editor Maury Wright as a past webcast report featuring SSL industry consultant Mike Krames of Arkesso. It’s a solid “UV LEDs 101” reference for those who like to bookmark.

I’m not going to rehash a lot of that device physics discussion here, but early key points included:

  • With regard to emitted photons and controllability of radiation distribution, “optical radiation of LEDs is much more easily managed.”
  • In terms of application geometries, “because [LEDs are] really small … you can arrange them into interesting patterns; they’re not constrained around one large light source.”
  •  The current wavelength range under discussion was ~275-280 nm… Why not focus on 265 or 222 nm? Eichelberger noted that “as we try to push to shorter wavelengths, our efficiency drops very, very rapidly” with the epitaxial technology that we have today.

Eichelberger moved on to present various use cases of LEDs in UV disinfection applications and they’re not all what you might expect. As far as upper-room disinfection goes, yes, that was a portion of the session. But another scenario included UV-C technology installed within the HVAC system to keep that functioning in an optimal manner to provide healthy air quality as well. Coils, air filters, duct walls, and drain pans can be maintained and kept free of bacteria and mold build-up with UV-C radiation. And the interior duct wall reflectance was a consideration Eichelberger was sure to mention, since it has the potential to reduce the number of LEDs or decreased the driver current required to produce the optimal radiation dosage.

Finally, the presentation turned to what I might term “premium integrations” of LEDs and sensors that further enhance the functionality and safety of UV-C-enabled disinfection systems. Eichelberger brought attention to tapping potential combinations of LEDs, sensors, detectors, imagers, and cameras to enable features such as:

  • UV dose monitoring in the space
  • Presence detection
  • Tamper/system mechanical misalignment detection (to ensure proper radiation distribution)
  • Biometric access control to the space or system
  • Visual warnings for ongoing disinfection operations
  • Room layout detection via 3-D sensing

Sensors, Eichelberger concluded, pair well with LEDs, “hence why ams and Osram have come together.” Indeed, our contributor Mark Halper has followed the ams Osram acquisition saga with keen interest and noted as early as August 2019 the organizational interest in “[creating] a global leader in sensor solutions and photonics.” While that wasn’t the pivot point of the UV webcast, the message was clear: Emitters are ready to expand their role in systems for UV disinfection across multiple use cases.

Attend the on-demand webcast with Chris Eichelberger for more in-depth insights.

*No, I’m never going to remember that the newer format on our landing page refers to it as a “webinar.” I’m old school. And stubbornly insistent upon style preferences. You’re shocked, I’m sure…

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