The Many Uses of Ultraviolet Light

The Many Uses of Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light is all around us yet may people don’t understand what ultraviolet light is or how it works. Ultraviolet light and radiation are also commonly used in technology throughout many industries. Want to learn more about the many uses of ultraviolet light? Read on to discover a few of its common applications.

What is Ultraviolet Light?

Before we dive into the everyday uses of ultraviolet light, it’s important to understand what ultraviolet light is. Ultraviolet (UV) light is an invisible type of light or radiation with a wavelength just shorter than that of visible light. On the electromagnetic spectrum, it falls just after visible violet light and just before x-ray radiation. Within the ultraviolet spectrum, there are three types of ultraviolet radiation: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C, with UV-A being the least intense and UV-C being the most harmful. One of the biggest sources of UV radiation is the sun—the atmosphere blocks out most of these rays, but the UV-B rays that get through can cause suntan and even sunburn.

Common Uses of Ultraviolet Light

UV light is commonly used in many industries, including medical, commercial, industrial, and more. Below, we’ll discuss four of the many uses of ultraviolet light.


While ultraviolet light isn’t on the spectrum of visible light, it’s commonly used for certain types of lighting. Many substances are able to absorb UV light, then convert a bright, visible light—this is called fluorescence. Your average, everyday fluorescent lightbulb operates thanks to UV light. Other examples of fluorescent lighting include the lights on street signs, shop signs, or in airplane cockpits.

Sterilization and Disinfection

One of the most popular uses of UV light across industries is for sterilization and disinfection. Any commercial business that wants to sterilize a surface or equipment can do so easily and effectively with a UV light. This type of sterilization is particularly popular in the medical and food industries, where having sterilized and disinfected equipment is especially important. A UV purifier is also popularly used to purify contaminated water, as it effectively kills any viruses or bacteria.


Have you ever been to a tanning salon? These salons utilize UV light technology in their tanning beds since UV light can darken human skin. This use of UV light is mainly for cosmetic purposes.


Many manufacturing industries use UV light in the curing process. UV light helps substances like inks, lacquers, and varnishes, among others, to dry harder and more quickly.

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