Bacteria-killing ultraviolet lights can sterilise everything from toothbrushes to bedsheets. But a new type of light fixture called the Indigo-Clean is able to wipe out those same dangerous pathogens while still being safe for patients or caregivers in a hospital.
Originally developed at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, the Indigo-Clean fixture, commercialised by Kenall Manufacturing, looks like any other overhead lighting. But when switched on it emits high-intensity narrow spectrum (HINS) light at a wavelength of 405 nanometres that’s outside the range of ultraviolet, which is harmful to humans.
To anyone in the room, the HINS light looks blueish in colour, which might be slightly annoying for those who prefer warmer hues. But it’s more than just an issue of preferable colour temperature for bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms lurking in the room. The HINS light is absorbed by molecules inside them which starts a chemical chain reaction that stops their growth, prevents reproduction, and eventually kills them.
Because the light produced by the Indigo-Clean is safe for humans, it doesn’t require a special operator, or for the room to be cleared out ahead of a cleaning. It can be activated using nothing more than a switch on the wall, just like normal indoor lighting.