Hygienic and virus-free surfaces

Hygienic and virus-free surfaces

06. April 2020, 17:31 Uhr   |  Nicole Wörner

Hygienic and virus-free surfaces
© Thomas Westerhoff/Fraunhofer IOSB-AST

Prototype of the mobile phone disinfection system.

Mobile phones and tablets are some of the biggest "virus spinners". Especially in the clinical area, contamination can be dangerous. Scientists at the Fraunhofer IOSB rely on UVC light for disinfection.

Smartphones, tablets and similar mobile devices are picked up countless times a day. In most cases, however, hygienic aspects play a rather subordinate role. In the clinical field the situation is different. Here, tablets and smartphones are now being used in a variety of ways and also go from hand to hand. Disinfection is therefore absolutely necessary to prevent the transmission of viruses. The use of chemical methods is prohibited here, however, as this destroys the grease-repellent coating of the displays.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer IOSB-AST in Ilmenau have developed a technical innovation for this purpose: from the outside, it looks like a standard microwave oven. But inside, so-called UVC LEDs - light-emitting diodes that work with ultraviolet light - with a wavelength of 269 nm are used.

In total, two separate UVC LED modules are...

...with 10 UVC LEDs each for the top and bottom of the smartphone. Each UVC LED has an output of 100 milliwatts, so that the total beam power is two watts. This means that an irradiation dose of 800 J/m² is achieved in just a few seconds, which enables efficient inactivation of bacteria and viruses.

Smartphones are not only equipped with the solution...

...simply disinfected by light, but also identified via an NFC reader, the applied dose recorded and logged by a sensor. Thus, each disinfection process can be validated and clearly assigned to the respective device. An LCD display informs the user about the most important functions. Furthermore, downstream IT systems can be integrated via W-LAN and web interface.

"For many years we have been working...

...within the BMBF program 'Advanced UV for Life' on very different applications for UVC technologies in the field of disinfection. LEDs offer great advantages, which we can demonstrate excellently using the example of smartphone disinfection," explains engineer Thomas Westerhoff from Fraunhofer IOSB-AST.

The application areas of mobile phone disinfection...

... range from the clinical sector to private and commercial use and the event market. The prototype is expected to be presented in September 2020 at IFAT, the world's leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management in Munich.

Fraunhofer IOSB-AST is still looking for partners from industry for commercial exploitation.

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Fraunhofer IOSB (Institut für Optronik, Systemtechnik und Bildauswertung)