People often talk generically about ultraviolet (UV) light, but these rays are divided into three distinct types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. While we’re most familiar with UVA and UVB rays, which cause sunburns and may contribute to skin cancer, UVC rays—the most dangerous and damaging of all—are blocked by the atmosphere. This is a good thing for our eyes and skin; however, UVC does serve an important purpose in terms of disinfecting.
UVC radiation is a reliable disinfectant. It can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on surfaces and in air or water. UVC light has even been proved to destroy 99% of the COVID-19 virus within a few seconds.
The pandemic has led to a number of changes throughout our society, including within the manufacturing industry. From an increased emphasis on reshoring operations to an increased demand for UV lamps, the entire supply chain has been affected and forced to pivot.
Internet searches for UV lamps have increased by more than 664% in the past year, with spikes every quarter. As a result of the ever-growing need for COVID-19 sanitation measures, sourcing activity has increased, including finding the right materials, such as the highly thermal-resistant and UV-transparent fused silica glass, for UV light applications.
UV light is electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to the human eye with wavelengths ranging from 180-400 nanometers. There are three classes:
- UVA. 315-400 nanometers
- UVB. 280-315 nanometers
- UVC. 180-280 nanometers
While we’re familiar with UVA and UVB, there’s a lot of attention now on UVC light. As mentioned above, it is the most powerful and dangerous of the three classes, which is why we’re lucky the sun’s UVC rays are completely absorbed by the atmosphere before they reach our skin.
However, we can create artificial sources of UVC radiation and direct it toward harmful viruses and bacteria. The bacteria-killing capabilities of UVC light makes it ideal for disinfecting medical and pharmaceutical products, elevators, hospital surfaces, and more.
UVC disinfection technology works on all sorts of surfaces within minutes, and it’s backed by decades of success. In fact, every bacteria and virus ever tested under UVC light has been altered by the radiation. It’s been trusted in hospitals for years, and can be safely used in offices, schools, gyms, stores, public transportation, and more.
Glass for UV Light Applications
UV lamps have to be made with materials that allow for the passing of certain wavelengths. Fused silica and quartz glass are the best types of glass for this purpose:
- Fused Silica. With a cross-linked 3D structure, fused silica offers high chemical purity and resistance, strong thermal resistance, and high radiation resistance with low thermal expansion and a high softening point. It’s also highly transparent from the UV to infrared spectral range.
- Quartz. Quartz glass is extremely pure and temperature resistant in both the visible and infrared range. With high thermal shock resistance, a low coefficient of thermal expansion, and good transmission behavior for UV light, it’s suitable for permanent operation at temperatures up to 1100° C—and even higher for short-term operation.
There are a number of UV light applications that take advantage of these high-quality glass solutions:
- Germicidal Lamps. These lamps provide a simple way to sanitize surfaces and are common in the food industry.
- Sanitizing Water. UVC light is an affordable solution for water purification in pools, spas, water reclamation, life sciences, and more.
- Surface and Air Applications. Hospitals have been using UVC radiation for years to sterilize equipment, surgical tools, and even the air in the facility.
UV Grade Fused Silica and Quartz Glass from Swift Glass
For almost a century, Swift Glass has been providing high-quality custom glass fabrication to our clients in a variety of industries. With our large stock of fused silica and quartz glass from several manufacturers, we’re equipped to create your glass solutions for UV light applications and more. For more information, or to get started on your UV lamp solution, contact us today.