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New UV radiation detection material developed

23 May 2018, 00:24 ( 23 May, 2018) | updated: 23 May 2018, 10:22 ( 23 May, 2018)

DF Report
File Photo VisitFinland by Harri Tarvainen.

Researchers at the University of Turku have developed a synthetic SensoGlow material that detects the quantity and quality of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun or other sources.

This material makes it possible to produce an affordable, versatile, and long-lasting UV radiation detector which can be used to monitor the UV radiation dose, for example, with a mobile app, said a press release on Tuesday.

​UV radiation is known to cause many skin and eye diseases such as cancer. Therefore, it is essential to have a simple method for detecting the quantity and quality of UV radiation from, for example, the Sun.

“This is currently achieved by using mainly organic molecules that change colour under UV radiation. The downside of using these molecules, however, is their poor durability which is due to the fact that the colour changes involve reorganisation of the molecular structure. Organic molecules are thus not very long-lasting for this purpose,” said Mika Lastusaari, docent in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Turku.

They have developed a synthetic SensoGlow material which is based on natural hackmanite and can change colour according to the quantity and quality of UV radiation. This material can be tuned to respond to UVA, UVB or UVC radiation levels, as well as the UV index of the Sun.

“The colour change of the SensoGlow™ material isn’t based on structural change but on the electron storage in the material which makes it more durable than organic alternatives. Since the colour change is based on electron storage, the process is reversible. When the material is removed from UV radiation, electrons return to their ground state, and the colour of the material returns to normal,” described Isabella Norrbo, who is doing her doctoral dissertation in the research group.

Because of these properties, the material can be used multiple times. In addition, the production of SensoGlow™ is very inexpensive as it is made of common elements.

“We believe that it is possible to produce an affordable, versatile, and long-lasting UV radiation detector that could function in everyday use to monitor your UV radiation dose. This monitoring could be done using a mobile app, for example,” said Lastusaari.