Pulsed UV-C Disinfection of Escherichia coli With Light-Emitting Diodes, Emitted at Various Repetition Rates and Duty Cycles


Corresponding author email: steve.wengraitis@mail.us.army.mil (Stephen Wengraitis)


A 2010 study exposed Staphylococcus aureus to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and thermal heating from pulsed xenon flash lamps. The results suggested that disinfection could be caused not only by photochemical changes from UV radiation, but also by photophysical stress damage caused by the disturbance from incoming pulses. The study called for more research in this area. The recent advances in light-emitting diode (LED) technology include the development of LEDs that emit in narrow bands in the ultraviolet-C (UV-C) range (100–280 nm), which is highly effective for UV disinfection of organisms. Further, LEDs would use less power, and allow more flexibility than other sources of UV energy in that the user may select various pulse repetition frequencies (PRFs), pulse irradiances, pulse widths, duty cycles and types of waveform output (e.g. square waves, sine waves, triangular waves, etc.). Our study exposed Escherichia coli samples to square pulses of 272 nm radiation at various PRFs and duty cycles. A statistically significant correlation was found between E. coli’s disinfection sensitivity and these parameters. Although our sample size was small, these results show promise and are worthy of further investigation. Comparisons are also made with pulsed disinfection by LEDs emitting at 365 nm, and pulsed disinfection by xenon flash lamps.