Similar to other UV devices, we can observe a continuous and tremendous growth of UV LED lamps over the decades. This trend can possibly be explained by two reasons, an improvement in technology and a rising demand for inspection devices. In the past, the typical way to generate UV light was dominated with mercury lamps. However, with the increasing awareness of environmental protection, UV LED lamps have become the mainstream method. On the other hand, regarding the supply side of the UV LED lamps, the unique applications of the three general ranges have been concluded and are still being explored. Along with its rapid development, the precautions for applying the lamps have been emphasized.
Applications of UV LED Lamps
- UV-A (400 – 315 nm):
Known as the upper UV type devices, having a wavelength range of 390 to 420 nm, they have been available since the late 1990s and applied in counterfeit detection, validation, and forensics. Having the longest history of development and ease of production, the price of the devices is the least expensive, while the diversity of sources is the highest. Illustrating with the example of the Super The Viper SL8300-UV Adjustable Light Beam UV LED Flashlight from Sunlonge, the peak wavelength lands between 365 and 370 nm. It can produce a high level of fluorescence stimulation even in daylight. Thus, it serves as the top choice in terms of a quick examination of large areas and leak detection. While for the middle UV-A component area, with a wavelength range of 350 to 390 nm, there has been the greatest market growth over the past few years. It is commonly applied for UV curing in both commercial and industrial fields. Compared with the traditional curing technologies, for instance, mercury and fluorescent, UV LEDs carry numerous competitive advantages, including, improved efficiency, reduced system miniaturization, and cost of ownership. Despite a slightly higher cost than the upper UV-A area, the substantial advancement of LED technology is gradually driving down the costs. The lower UV-A component, with a wavelength range of 315 to 350 nm, is a new entrant to the market. It displays a huge potential in a diversity of applications, containing, the biomedical field, DNA analysis, UV curing, and sensing. As its power is still being explored, there is a great chance of its expansion.
- UV-B (315 – 280 nm) & UV-C (280 – 100 nm): Due to the fact that the lower the UV wavelength range, the higher the cost of the devices, the market for the UV-B and UV-C ranges is in its infancy. However, people still hold a great deal of enthusiasm for these devices. For example, in 2012, the first commercial UV-C LED based disinfection system was introduced to the market. In addition, a number of companies have been pursuing the development of water purification systems because of their reliability and adequate lifetime. Therefore, in view of the underdeveloped UV-B and UV-C markets, the potential of these devices is continuously being studied.
Precautions for UV LED Lamps
On top of the high effectiveness of the UV LED lamps, the safety issues are another common topic. Regarding the multiple levels of UV light, the most typical and familiar source is the black light bulb. It has been used for decades to create fluorescence effects for the authentication of currency and paintings. It belongs to the UV-A area, which is the nearest to the visible range with relatively low energy. In fact, UV-A is the safest of the three spectra. Yet, the potential risk should never be ignored. For instance, directly looking at the UV LED lamp can be harmful to the eyes. Temporary or permanent vision loss or impairment may result. They should always be shielded. Additionally, high exposure can be linked to skin cancer. Accordingly, safety precautions should be adopted to minimize any kind of risk.
Thanks to rapid technological development, the potential of UV LED lamps has been constantly explored and maximized for diverse applications. At the same time, the importance of using these devices has been highlighted. By following the safety precautions, UV LED lamps serve as the best tool for multiple tasks, particularly, inspection and detection.