© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Turn on the light to stop COVID-19

Tom Flavill
Gale and Shuyan 2
Gale Brightwell and Shuyan Wu in the lab  Supplied

AgResearch have developed technology that uses different forms of light to kill the virus that caused COVID-19.

Scientists have been granted $300,000 to develop technology to kill harmful viruses, including the virus causing Covid-19. 

The team from AgResearch, Massey University, and Energylight Group have secured the funding from the government's Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund.

They will research light combinations that can be used to sanitize surfaces in commercial and public places.

AgResearch senior scientist Dr Gale Brightwell said the group was combining ultraviolet light with blue light through light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to improve the speed and efficiency of antiviral treatments.

"Once we have proven the light combination is effective, there will be potential to move to develop and test prototypes. Examples could be for use in airports, shopping malls, and public toilets," Brightwell said.

Blue light LED is significantly more energy-efficient than other forms of light, generating much less heat, therefore requiring less cooling, ultimately meaning the prototype will be smaller and cheaper.

AgResearch post-doctoral scientist Shuyan Wu said work on the prototype would start next month. Wu said the product would be finished in six months.

"The cost is dependent on the material and prototype size, but we are looking forward to building a reasonable prototype," Wu said.

The computer screen-sized prototype is still in the development phase however when finished is expected to kill the virus within two hours of treatment.