Feb. 27, 2002 (NEWARK) - A new method for producing ultraviolet (UV) light has been patented by an international team of university researchers in New Jersey and Germany. The far-reaching technology is expected to contribute to major advancements in the semiconductor industry, where UV light has its largest commercial application.
With colleagues at The Technical University in Munich, Rutgers-Newark physics professor Daniel Murnick has developed a system that provides a much more energy-efficient UV light source with higher power and lower maintenance than conventional UV light sources. Ultraviolet light is an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and is a form of radiation responsible for tanning and in excess may be a risk factor for skin cancer.
The UV light source developed by Murnick and colleagues uses a shorter wavelength than ambient UV light, sometimes called “deep UV or vacuum UV,” and provides the potential for major industrial and commercial applications.
The largest application for the deep UV light technology is materials processing in the semiconductor industry. Semiconductors are the basic material utilized in electronic devices for telecommunications and computer technology. Deep UV light sources are also used for sterilization of equipment in hospitals and the production of ozone for drinking water purification. Other industries that use similar UV light include the printing industry, companies that utilize analytical chemistry methods, and the lighting industry where the UV is converted to visible light.
The research team has been granted two patents so far, one for the basic technology and one for its laser application, and a third patent is pending for large area UV lamp technology.
“Using fundamental physics, we have found a different and more efficient way to produce UV light and small UV lamps,” said Murnick. “This unique new UV lamp works so well because of an extremely efficient excitation of the gas molecules, which produces the UV light.”
Murnick noted that this new UV light source offers several benefits over traditional sources. The lamp remains near room temperature during operation, can be custom built to fit its intended use, and uses electricity more efficiently than current UV technologies. Ultraviolet light sources can run cool and produce high brightness and high power due to the high energy per photon of light, explained Murnick. While the research team was investigating a new type of UV laser, similar to those used for surgery of the cornea, they discovered the new way to produce UV light in a highly efficient lamp.
Professor Andreas Ulrich, Technical University, and Manfred Salvermoser, a research associate with Rutgers-Newark, collaborated on Murnick’s UV light research. Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation and other sources.
The Rutgers University Office of Corporate Liaison and Technology Transfer is working to license the UV lamp for potential commercial markets. “This is a real breakthrough for UV light technology and it has broad applications, especially in the highly cost-competitive semiconductor marketplace,” added Murnick.
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