While ultraviolet light has been known to kill bacteria since at least 1903, when Niels Finsen won a Nobel Prize for Medicine thanks to his process for fighting lupus and tuberculosis, interest in this technique has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. UV-A is dangerous, as it can harm humans and other animals in addition to bacteria and viruses, but is also very effective. UV light is also useful for applications other than sterilization, such as to cure certain kinds of adhesive. Said Alvarado Marin designed UVA as a modular ultraviolet light tool for a range of scenarios, and it has won a Hackaday Prize.
The Hackaday Prize is an annual contest open to all makers that awards winners with substantial funding. This year’s “Best All Around” Grand Prize winner was BTYE, which is an assistive computer mouse operated by the mouth. But there are other prizes that have been awarded. The UVA tool has won the Field Ready “Best in Category” Prize. Field Ready is a non-governmental, non-profit that is focused on humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The UVA tool was chosen for this prize because of its usefulness in disaster recovery, particularly for various manufacturing processes that are indispensable when trying to rebuild a region affected by a natural disaster.
UVA is modular and is designed so that different tools can easily be swapped in and out. The primary tool is the UV-A light wand, which contains an array of UV LEDs that can sterilize surfaces or cure industrial glue. A built-in distance sensor improves the effectiveness, battery life, and safety of the device by ensuring the LEDs only turn on if they’re the proper distance from a surface. The tool also features a passive cooler for the LEDs and a small screen that displays the distance and a chronometer. The light wand and the chassis it attaches to are both 3D-printed. The chassis is where the three 18650 cells that form the battery are housed. It has an innovative connection interface that lets the user quickly snap on new tool heads. The UV light wand is currently the only tool head that has been developed, but Marin should be able to create more tools using the prize money from this project.