An empty hospital room

The faster an item can be properly disinfected the better. Understanding this, a group of researchers are in the process of creating a technology that can disinfect a surface in less than five minutes by way of a uber-thin coating comprised of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes, reports Forbes.

Purdue University researchers hope to fuse the tiny coating into a number of products associated with the commercial cleaning industry — vinyl flooring, toilet seats, door handles and wall coverings to name a few. The coating is assimilated into materials using an electrical field that lights up the object, then kills harmful bacteria that are present. The coating is shadowless and pliable. 

The method would be a boon for hospitals, as it stands to save billions of dollars and would be able to replace the ultraviolet lights and chemicals currently used to disinfect patient rooms. Other settings where the coating could be used includes public restrooms, public transit, nursing homes and restaurants.

Prior to applying the coating, workers will have to rid objects of dust and dirt because not doing so would cause the light to be absorbed by the debris before it reaches the germs, says one of the researchers.

Purdue University has filed a patent for the coating technology and is raising funds so that it can build a prototype.

The use of UV light for disinfection is far from a foreign concept. The technology is used throughout professional cleaning to destroy hidden pathogens on walls, high-touch areas, furniture and other objects. As this article from Sanitary Maintenance magazine explains, UV light is an option to consider when cleaning soft surfaces in healthcare facilities.