Ultraviolet (UV) LEDs have a bright future in industrial and life science applications even given the fact that humans can’t see the light. In particular, LEDs in the UV-C band (generally 100–280 nm) promise to revolutionize sterilization and disinfection and could bring safe water to people around the globe and safer conditions to our medical facilities (Fig. 1). LEDs Magazine, in fact, covered earlier this year. Still, we hear that such applications need LEDs with higher performance and longer lifetimes to truly penetrate the market. But UV product developers need to rethink LED lifetime as another variable in the engineering process.
Without question, “What is your product lifetime?” is a common inquiry heard by UV-C LED manufacturers from engineers considering an LED-based UV-C source for disinfection. It’s typically prompted by current design experience with traditional UV-C sources, like low-pressure germicidal lamps, or perceptions of visible LED products. But there is an immediate disconnect. LED lifetime is not a fixed specification. It is a variable factor that engineers can control after considering how the UV-C LED will be used.
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