Nitrate sensing reference design for UV-C LEDs

Nitrate sensing reference design for UV-C LEDs

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By Nick Flaherty

Ultraviolet UV-C LEDs from Silanna UV are being used in a reference design for sensing nitrates in drinking water.

The SF1 series of LEDs use the company’s patented short period superlattice (SPSL) technology that provides higher performance in the 230nm-260nm far UV-C and Deep UV-C ranges. Silanna now provides a complete reference design for a nitrate detector based on this technology.

Nitrate contamination of drinking water is a growing threat around the world, with nitrates from agricultural, industrial and natural biological processes increasingly contaminating water supplies as populations grow and expand.

Detection of nitrates traditionally relied on an expensive process in which broadband light generated by a UV lamp is passed through spectroscopy to extract the far UV-C wavelength needed for sensing.

The SF1 UV-C emitters have a peak wavelength under 235nm and a Full-Width-Half-Max (FWHM) of 10nm making it suitable for nitrate sensing.

The reference module rapidly and accurately measures the nitrate content of a liquid sample. It uses a microcontroller-based design with a capacitive touch display, safety interlock, and compensates for thermal effects to maintain accuracy and avoid warm-up delay.

The UV-C LEDs package’s built-in 30-degree parabolic lens eliminates the need of secondary optics, making the system even more compact and cost effective. The module requires less than a second to make a measurement, not only saving time, but also extending component lifetime to over 100,000 measurements, and the concentration of the nitrate is measured at a resolution of 0.01mg/L-N according to estimates.

As well as nitrate detection, the SF1 and SN3 UV LEDs are suitable for sterilization applications as well as water and gas sensing, instrumentation, and medical analyzers.


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