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Low-cost, scalable far-UVC source for reducing pathogen transmission

The use of short wavelength ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces is a well-established technique commonly used to sterilise medical equipment and unpopulated spaces. These light sources are however often bulky, inefficient, contain toxic materials such as mercury, and the light generated can be harmful to human eyes and skin.

Using low-cost, scalable materials and processes, TMD Technologies, in partnership with Brunel University London, proposed to develop a flat-panel far-UVC source capable of generating light at a wavelength proven harmless to humans, while being efficient against bacteria and viruses including the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

This device will allow widespread installation in public spaces where pathogen transmission is a heightened risk, effectively reducing the rate of spread and benefiting the national public health.

This project resulted in field emission devices being manufactured, tested and evaluated, that demonstrate a working UV field emission device that is safe for further large scale commercial development. 

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr George Fern
Dr George Fern - George Fern is a chemist by background who has worked in engineering since 2006.  He has a broad skills set in developing and delivering collaborative research and development projects and consultancy with industry, from inorganic and organic materials chemistry to their integration into polymeric materials and electronic devices and has acted as an expert witness.  His research focus is on polymer procesing, sustainable materials and opto-electronic materials and devices for applications ranging from horticulture to displays and lighting. He has teaching interests in chemistry, materials chemistry and charasterisation. He has a keen interest in materials characterisation, electron microscopy (SEM, TEM), X-ray methods (XRD, XRF) and spectroscopic techniquies (UV-Vis-NIR, FTIR, Raman) to study luminescent materials (cathodoluminescence (CL), photoluminescence emission and excitation (PL, PLE)) and is the Academic Director of the Experimental Techniques Centre and Director of the Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Processing and Characterisation. He is a Chartered Chemist and Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.

Related Research Group(s)


Sensors and Instrumentation - Research in detectors, instrumentation, and data analysis methods applied in high energy particle physics, space science, medical imaging, and remote instrumentation and control.

ETC lab

Experimental Techniques Centre - A highly regarded cross-disciplinary characterisation facility, with specialist staff that have expertise from various scientific disciplines, e.g. biology, metallurgy, geology and engineering.


Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing - Research into the development and processing of new materials including nano-materials, nano-phosphors and nanostructured carbon, biofuels, polymers and bio-polymers.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 13/10/2023