Jun 15, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Researchers Found a Nanomaterial to Replace Mercury

Apr 25, 2019 09:21 AM EDT

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A team of researchers led by professors Helge Weman and Bjørn-Ove Fimland at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology or NTNU's Department of Electronic Systems was able to create light-emitting diodes or LEDs by using a nanomaterial, it is said to emit ultraviolet light. This is the first time that an ultraviolet light was created on graphene surface.

"We've shown that it's possible, which is really exciting," says Ph.D. candidate Ida Marie Høiaas, who has been working on the project with Ph.D. candidate Andreas Liudi Mulyo.

"We've created a new electronic component that has the potential to become a commercial product. It's non-toxic and could turn out to be cheaper, and more stable and durable than today's fluorescent lamps. If we succeed in making the diodes efficient and much cheaper, it's easy to imagine this equipment becoming commonplace in people's homes. That would increase the market potential considerably," Høiaas says.

UV radiation or ultraviolet light can be dangerous, that is why experts have always instructed the public to protect themselves from too much exposure, but it can't be denied that it has useful properties as well, especially UV lights with short wavelengths of 100 to 280 nanometers. It is called the UVC light which is useful because it has the ability to destroy viruses and bacteria.

Fortunately, the UVC rays from the sun that are deemed as dangerous are trapped by the atmosphere's ozone layer and oxygen, so it does not reach the Earth. But it is still possible to make UVC light which can be used to clean hospital equipment, purify air and water and clean surfaces.

The issue that we have today is that numerous UVC lamps are found to contain mercury. The 2017 UN Minamata Convention made ways to remove mercury mining and to reduce the use of mercury. The UN Minamata Convention was named after a Japanese fishing village where the people were poisoned by mercury substances from a factory in the 1950s.

There is an analysis calculated in this study and it is set to believe that the market for UVC products will increase by $700 million between 2019 and 2023. The increasing demand for these products and the removal of mercury on products are expected change the market and increase it of almost 40 percent.

With her Ph.D. research at NTNU, Høiaas is working with the same technology on an industrial platform for CrayoNano. The company is a spinoff from NTNU's nano research group.

These UVC LEDs can replace fluorescent bulbs in the market, the company CrayoNano's goal is to make energy-efficient and cheaper LEDs.

More: Mercury, LED
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