What is Far-UVC?
Curious to learn about Beacon's underlying technology? Here is everything you need to know about Far-UVC.
UV, or ultraviolet light, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). The EMS is measured in wavelengths, and is the general name given to the known range of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum as shown below. One wavelength is the horizontal distance between two peaks of the wave. Those wavelengths are measured in nanometers. Visible light--the light we see--ranges from approximately 400-700nm wavelength. This includes light like fluorescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and LEDs.
Humans cannot see ultraviolet light.
There are 3 types of Ultraviolet light. Their wavelengths range from 100-400nm, and are all too low to be seen by the human eye.
Type 1: UVA Light
- 315-400 nm
- UVA rays have the longest wavelengths
- All UVA rays are transmitted through the Earth’s ozone layer and is the one we are most likely to be in contact with. UVA is not readily absorbed by the ozone layer - about 95% gets through.
- Most of the UV rays you come in contact with are UVA with a small amount of UVB.
- UVA rays have a longer wavelength that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin (the dermis). This can cause immediate tanning and premature skin aging, and play a role in the development of certain skin cancers.
- Subset of UVA/UVB is Near Ultraviolet: 300-420 nm which is visible to birds, insects, fish
Type 2: UVB Light
- 280-315 nm
- Most, but not all UVB rays are transmitted through the atmosphere (some are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer) and some pass through
- UVB rays have a short wavelength that reaches the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis)
- UVB is short-wave UV radiation. It can just penetrate the outer protective layer of the skin and is responsible for delayed tanning, sunburns and most skin cancers.
- A large amount of UVB is absorbed by the ozone layer - only 5% reaches our planet's surface.
Type 3: UVC Light
- UVC rays have the shortest wavelengths.
- All UVC rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer.
- UVC, with wavelengths between 100 and 280nm, is very energetic.
- UVC radiation is filtered out by the ozone layer, and never reaches earth.
- UVC can be created artificially to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
- Far UVC is a subset of UVC spectrum at 200-230nm
What Makes Far-UVC 222nm So Special?
Far-UVC is a narrower range of wavelengths in the UVC spectrum that includes 200-230nm. Far-UVC is unlike the standard germicidal UVC spectrum (254nm) that has traditionally been tested and commercially available.
Far-UVC, specifically 222nm, appears to be unable to penetrate the outer layers of our skin and eyes. The International Ultraviolet Association depicts the differences between UVC and how far these different wavelengths will affect people below:
Far-UVC, 222nm, has also been proven effective in a multitude of studies. One prominent researcher in this area, Dr. David Brenner from Columbia, gave a TED talk about the benefits of far-UVC against pathogens like coronaviruses and the flu. If you'd like to read more into the science on the safety and efficacy of 222nm, we have several studies and reports on far-UVC posted here.
Far- UVC in the News
The Atlantic: A UV Lamp That's Bad for COVID
Knowble Magazine: How to Fight COVID with Light
Smithsonian Magazine: Could UV Light Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 in Indoor Spaces?
Science Direct: Far-UVC 222nm Efficacy in Killing COVID
National Library of Medicine: Proven Safety on Exposure of Far-UVC 222nm on Skin
Wiley Online Library: Proven Safety on Exposure of Far-UVC 222nm on Eyes
International Journal of Pharmaceutics: Far-UVC 222nm may help skin absorb retinoids to reverse UVA/UVB (sun) skin damage