Illuminated door handle kills germs

Two Hong Kong students have succeeded in designing and creating a door handle that kills various bacteria thanks to a coating and UV light. This prevents germs from being spread via hands.

One of the ways that colds and influenza are spread is through contact and specifically via items such as door handles. If you open the same door used by somebody already infected, you run the risk of becoming infected yourself. Therefore a door handle that kills those types of germs will stop the spread of infection through contact.

Based on this premise, the students went to work on titanium oxide (TiO2), a mineral that is activated under the influence of UV light and kills germs among other things. However, the applications are limited to the open air as UV is not present indoors and therefore the antibacterial effect of the TiO2 cannot be activated. In order to overcome this shortcoming, a glass tube coated in TiO2 with UV LEDs fitted at either end was devised. UV light shines continuously inside the glass tube thereby activating the coating and killing any germs that end up there. Tests have shown that it is 99.8 % effective.

Integral drive

Connecting the handle to a power socket proved to be too complicated and using batteries was also not an option. Therefore a drive mechanism was designed based on the energy released with the opening and closing of the door. The energy generated is stored in a battery thereby ensuring that the door handle remain illuminated at all times. Not only are all the bacteria killed off, but the handle is also easy to locate.

The same principle can be applied to other appliances to which many people come into contact, including shopping trolleys, stair bannisters, etc.

The students were able to demonstrate their door handle at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the US city of Pittsburgh. It is not clear if and when the door handle will be marketed.

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