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Covid-19 update: 28 May 2020

28 May 2020

A round-up of this week's coronavirus-related news and countermeasures from the photonics industry.

A novel LED irradiation system developed by the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Berlin, Germany, is designed to kill microorganisms with ultra-short wave UV light – without side effects. A prototype of the UVC LED irradiation system featuring 118 LEDs has been delivered to Berlin’s Charité Hospital for initial testing.

According to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, 400,000 to 600,000 infections with hospital germs occur in Germany every year – and about 10,000 to 20,000 people die from them. Since multidrug-resistant pathogens often cannot be treated with antibiotics, alternative approaches are needed.

A promising countermeasure is irradiation with UVC light, which can be used to destroy microorganisms without allowing resistances to develop. Within the framework of their Joint Lab GaN Optoelectronics, the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut (FBH) and Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) have developed LEDs emitting in the far ultraviolet (UV) spectral range.

The LEDs emit at wavelengths around 230nm and provide more than one milliwatt output power. Such UVC LEDs are not yet commercially available worldwide due to technological challenges of the utilized material system aluminum-gallium nitride (AlGaN).Their light does not penetrate into the living layers of the skin because of their high degree of absorption.

It is therefore expected that the skin – in contrast to long-wave UVC radiation as emitted by mercury vapor lamps, for example – will not be harmed at all or will be damaged so little that the natural repair mechanisms compensate for the effect. The researchers hope that this will help to kill MDR pathogens without any long-term side effects.

Miniaturization and further applications

LEDs have many advantages and open up further perspectives: they are particularly small and thus permit miniaturized irradiation systems. These could be used endoscopically in body orifices or as hand-held devices. LEDs also emit only little heat and hardly put any strain on the skin. In addition, they do not require high voltage – an important safety aspect, since they are used on humans.

The UV LED irradiation system is to be further developed in the future so that pathogens can be eliminated in places that are difficult to access. The device might also be interesting for corona viruses, as they can also be inactivated by short-wave UVC light. Since SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the pharynx in the first phase, it seems plausible to use such light sources in this part of the body to prevent a Covid-19 disease.

Stemmer Imaging has signed an agreement with Automation Technology for the distribution of its FebriScan system – a complete LWIR camera solutions for detecting elevated human body temperatures.

“Automation Technology is one of our long-term partners and we’ve always had the confidence with them being able to provide our customers with leading edge technology. The FebriScan product was developed not only for our customers, but for the whole environment, as it can significantly reduces the risk of infectious diseases from spreading,” commented Tim Huylebrouck, a Product Manager at Stemmer Imaging.

With current restrictions being enforced due to the Covid-19 situation, non-contact elevated body temperature measurements are crucial to maintain the social distancing guidelines while performing checks, Stemmer added. The high-precision system from Automation Technology is available as an all-in-one or portable solution and performs checks that meet the requirements of the IEC 80601-2-59:2017 standards.

The Febriscan is available with a number of configuration options that enable it to be mounted at a distance of 1 or 2m away from the subject. The system can be deployed in less than 5 minutes and enables a true body temperature measurement with the highest accuracy thanks to the calibrated high precision temperature reference black body – which is used to reference the measure temperature to a precision required for true elevated body temperature detection.

To ensure that the temperature that is measured is as close to the core body temperature as possible, the system detects and measures the temperature at the inner eyelid angle of the eye (canthus) rather than the skin temperature, which is proven to be unreliable. Athinodoros Klipfel from Automation Technology, explained, “Thanks to a specially by AT-developed blackbody, the FebriScan achieves a measurement precision better than +/- 0.3°C. It is available in different packages to better suit individual installation needs and it can therefore also be setup at every location.”

Medical laser technology company Multi Radiance Medical has announced the start of non-pharmaceutical clinical trial using photobiomodulation to treat intubated Covid-19 patients. The Solon, Ohio-based firm states, “As treatment for Covid-19 is becoming a global priority, researchers in Brazil are conducting a clinical trial using our super pulsed laser therapy technology as an adjunctive means to improve critical care for Covid-19 patients.

“Approved by the Ministry of Health in Brazil, a group of international physicians and scientists are in the early stages of data collection utilizing Multi Radiance Medical’s handheld super pulsed laser therapy devices to improve the condition of patients.”

The study, the first of its kind to utilize light therapy for Covid-19 patient recovery, will evaluate the respiratory muscle function and levels of inflammation during intubation. There is, the company claims, a profound effect seen following a brief exposure to multi-wavelength light on muscle fatigue.

Coordinated by Drs. Fabio Francio, Ernesto Leal-Junior, and Thiago DeMarchi, the trial aims to use low level laser therapy for general improvement of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in intensive care units by decreasing the length of hospitalization of these patients through improving ventilation and immune response, and decreasing inflammation. “This pandemic has impacted us all greatly. Multi Radiance is excited to partake in a trial that could become a piece of the critical care solution for Covid-19 patients,” says founder and CEO Max Kanarsky.

Fraunhofer IWS laser-cuts transparent IWShield

Laser remote technology offers a solution for fast and flexible processing of a range of materials, and for efficient cutting of materials. With a cutting speed of 1m/s, the beam of the CO2 laser is deflected by rapidly tilting mirrors and directed over the target material.

The process can be performed quasi-simultaneously in a working field of up to one square meter. Fraunhofer IWS researchers have developed a laser cutting process based on this technology, which generates the transparent face shield "IWShield" within a single cut. Although this solution is currently not yet approved as a certified medical device, it reduces the risk of droplet infection via the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

After a short development time the first prototypes of the IWShield face shield were generated at the Fraunhofer IWS multi-remote system MuReA in Dresden, Germany. The material used is mainly polyethylene terephthalate ("PET").

Trumpf UK’s company statement in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic was updated on May 20th to add, “We have defined a Business Resiliency Plan with the aim to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees, maintain the supply chain and technical support while ensuring we do not add risk of transmission to our customers.”

Working safely during the Coronavirus pandemic

  • There are monthly remote staff meetings that take place and bi-monthly Covid-19 meetings to keep employees up to date with all the latest information
  • Currently, more than 90% of internal employees are working from their home offices
  • Trumpf UK: updated guidance.

    Trumpf UK: updated guidance.

    Employees survey has been completed on ‘Returning to the new normal’. The results are to be analysed and implemented where possible
  • Trumpf Ltd is working to meet UK Government guidelines to ready the office for increased capacity
  • For external employees, PPE cotton masks, face shields will be supplied where close contact cannot be avoided; also hand sanitizers and disposable gloves
  • For the UK offices, a new one way system to be introduced. Considering workstation safety for employees, social distancing shall continue to be observed; there will be optional face masks for meeting where social distancing cannot be guaranteed; rotation of internal staff in the office to ensure social distancing; there will be new canteen arrangement and breaks to be planned
  • Customers will be asked to complete declaration documents to ensure the safety of employees

Liechtenstein-based Optics Balzers has further developed its range of optical dielectric filters in the UV spectrum. The company says that short-wave light, ranging from 100 to 400nm in the UV spectrum, has the ability to fight pathogens:

“In medical fields this property is commonly used to combat germs, bacteria and viruses,” it states on its website. “Studies have shown that when irradiated with short-wave UV-C light more than 95% of viruses become ineffective. Short-wave light is also used in virological diagnostics. Antibodies are marked with a fluorochrome, and when stimulated by a defined UV radiation, can then be visualized. Specially matched optical filters are used to separate excitation and emission wavelengths.”

InfraTec GmbHOcean InsightEclipse OpticsDIAMOND SAPhoton Engineering, LLCficonTEC Service GmbHDataRay Inc.
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