Lesser-Known Uses of UV Radiation

4 Minute Read

The sun, the ultimate source of light, heat, and energy, is also a source of ultraviolet radiation. This solar emission can be dangerous for humans, but its controlled use can help you reap many benefits. Let’s learn more!

Popularly known as UV radiation, ultraviolet light energy arrives in the form of waves, like electromagnetic radiation. We humans cannot see this light spectrum with naked eyes but can experience its positive and negative effects.

How did UV light come into existence?

In 1801, German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter discovered UV radiation.

He found UV radiation while observing an accelerated darkening of silver-chloride soaked paper on being exposed to invisible rays. These rays were beyond the visible spectrum on the violet end.

Johann called the UV radiation “oxidizing rays” to distinguish from other heat rays. As these rays emphasized chemical reactivity, it was replaced by the term “chemical rays” which grew popular in the 19th century. Eventually, the chemical and heat ray terms were replaced with the ultraviolet and infrared designations, respectively.

Ultraviolet Radiation Spectrum

As aforesaid, ultraviolet radiation can’t be seen. This feature makes it different from visible light that we see in rainbow colors. Ultraviolet radiations start right after the violet end of the rainbow, which is transmitted in the form of waves.

In the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has the wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm. Visible light has a longer wavelength than UV radiations, but UV is longer than those of X-rays.

UV radiation is classified into three types according to their wavelength: UVA with a wavelength between 315 and 400 nm, UVB with a wavelength between 280 and 315 nm, and UVC with a wavelength between 100 and 280 nm. UVA can penetrate deeper into the skin, UVB rays can reach up to the outer layer of the skin, while UVC being the shortest wavelength, is filtered out by the atmosphere.

Primary Uses of Ultraviolet Radiations

Ultraviolet light is widely used in commercial, industrial, and healthcare sectors. From disinfection to getting a stunning tanned body, UV light is being used in several industries with great care and caution. Let’s dig in the details -

For Disinfection

UVC is known to deliver exceptional disinfection results. This light inactivates life-threatening bacteria present in our living space - it disables the strands of DNA in bacteria and viruses, making them immobile. These inactivated bacteria can’t reproduce and multiply, which means you can breathe in a germ-free environment. 

Today, UVC disinfection lamps and wands are widely used to disinfect everyday objects, tools, medical equipment, car interiors, and other high-touch surfaces. These are also used in commercial kitchen setups and hotels for effective germ control. Further, Auckland’s sewage treatment plant uses UVC to inactivate bacteria. They use UVC before discharging the clear effluent into the Manukau Harbour.

For Treating Health Issues

UVB radiations are used to treat various health issues.

Primarily, it is known to help patients dealing with the deficiency of vitamin D. UVB exposure can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Further, studies suggest that moderate UV exposure can trigger Vitamin D production, thus helping you boost your immune system and bone health.

For Indoor Gardening

Creating enchanting green spaces inside the building can never be a bad idea. And guess what - UV light can help you achieve your indoor gardening goals!

When you transplant seedlings to more intense light sources, you can expect better plant growth. UV lamps are greatly beneficial for indoor gardening as they speed up the germination process. Many gardening enthusiasts today use UV lighting to let their plants thrive and enhance their medicinal and culinary properties.

Air Purification

Another great use of UV radiation is air purification.

UV air purifiers are ideal to trap dust particles and remove harmful microorganisms like bacteria, mold, mildew, and more. Wondering how? Let us explain.

The environmental contaminants present indoors are mostly organic, carbon-based compounds. They break down on being exposed to high-intensity UVC. By high intensity, we mean in the range of 240 nm to 280 nm that also destroy the DNA in microorganisms. Therefore, cycling air passed a UVC emitter that helps in air purification. UV air purification devices are scientifically tested to eliminate bacteria and reduce indoor air pollutants, thus creating a safer living environment.

For Fluorescence

Do you know, materials react in different ways when they are exposed to the UV light? This is the reason UV lamps can also be used to inspect various materials and surfaces. You will see some substances that can absorb the UV light’s energy and change it into visible light. This process is called fluorescence. For example, a highlighter pen glows in the dark why? Because highlighter pens have a fluorescent dye that absorbs the energy of UV light and turns it into visible light.

Moreover, the black light emitted by UV is used to inspect splits, breaks, and various defects. UV enables you to view certain things that are not visible to the naked eye, and so, it is also used for examining a crime scene or conducting forensic inspections. Detectives and investigating agencies use UV light for inspection of documents, reveal hidden fingerprints, find forged banknotes, etc.

For Curing

As discussed, UV radiation was called “chemical rays” when it grew popular in the early 19th century. This was because certain chemical changes were absorbed in some substances after exposure to UV.

This chemical effect is used in numerous ways, out of which one is to harden special glues quickly. This process of changing the substances chemically is called “curing.”


Have you heard about UV lasers?

These lasers are used in many ways including laser engraving, dermatology, keratectomy, chemistry, communications, optical storage, and integrated circuit manufacturing. The application is expected to find more usage in the biology and medicine world.

We hope it was a useful read for you. For more such updates, stay tuned with Smart UV. We offer the best tips and UVC disinfection products to help you kill germs and inactivate airborne diseases. All our products are designed to provide sanitizing effects in a safe and efficient manner. Explore our selection of UV devices here