Terminology is no trivial matter when it comes to UV technology

Nov. 23, 2021
While debating the validity of regional slang such as ‘soda,’ ‘pop,’ and ‘tonic’ is an entertaining social media conversation, it’s critical for us as content providers to bring clarity of UV terms to the LED and SSL supply chain.

I am a huge word nerd. I love words. As a child, I enjoyed learning to spell and understand new words. (Here’s an extra nerdy fact for you: I competed twice in the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by the Lawrence Eagle Tribune. I still remember one word that dropped me out of the competition in the fifth round — “rapacious.” I cannot for the life of me remember the other.)

With technical content, it’s ever more important for us to continue to learn new vocabulary — or for that matter, to understand new ways in which existing terms should be applied. In a column for our November UV Tech Insights newsletter, chief editor Maury Wright mused upon the importance using of precise terminology when delivering information about ultraviolet (UV) technology for disinfection applications. I’m posting an edit of it here on our blog, in case you’re not subscribed to that newsletter. It’s important for us to be transparent about the fact that we’re learning right alongside the industry sectors we cover.


“The world, the English language world in particular, is full of words with subtle spelling and punctuation differences that make a huge difference in meaning. [Our] Carrie Meadows reverently* mentioned a teacher that stressed the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s.’ I get that wrong sometimes, especially in text messages or emails. I know better.

But this past week, work on an article brought this situation to the forefront. And now, thinking back, I wonder if I have always correctly used the words ‘dose’ and ‘dosage.’ There is a difference in the two. Dose implies a simple amount while dosage is an amount over time. You might have a 50-mg dose of a medicine. But dosage might be 50 mg taken once every 24 hours.

The story that brought this issue to the forefront was a combination news report focused on UV-C technologies for disinfection. The larger section of that story covers research work done by a team from ams Osram and the University of Padua. The dose of a UV-C LED or light engine is simply the radiometric energy or wattage produced by the device or perhaps that amount related to size of the area being disinfected. The dosage becomes the value measured over time that is characterized by the far more complex mJ/cm2.

In any event, the ams Osram-led research team sought to utilize an LED light engine operating at far-ranging power levels to determine equivalent dosages based on time for deactivation of a pathogen to a calculated variance. […] The methodology in the research should be required reading for developers of disinfection systems.

The whole idea of dose and dosage made me think back to some articles we have proudly produced. Early this year, we ran a contributed piece authored by experts on UV-C disinfection from Excelitas Technologies about determining the needed dose — or is it dosage — for a specific disinfection scenario. I stand by the value of that article. But we mistakenly allowed the use of dose where we really meant dosage. We’ve learned a lot this year about UV-C.” — MW

*Editor’s note: I may have mentioned that, at first, I thought the policy of failing a student for a paper that featured the wrong “its/it’s” was frankly sadistic. In my current profession, however, I can appreciate how determined the professor was to instill in her students a care for how we use every word at our disposal. — CAM

Related resources

Myriad germicidal UV developments change the SSL name game

CIE publishes International Lighting Vocabulary, 2nd Edition

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

CARRIE MEADOWS is associate editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.