Guest Editor Blog Mini-Series: Katherine, Regional Sales Specialist at Southern Lamps

The Discovery of UV by Johann Wilhelm Ritter

By Katherine, Regional Sales Specialist at Southern Lamps

Ever since I started working in the UV lamp industry, my curiosity has woken up and my eyes have been opened by information I would have never thought of. As a new person in this field I asked myself – “who discovered UV light and how?”

To start off – what does ‘ultraviolet’ mean? Ultraviolet in regards to electromagnetic radiation is having a wavelength shorter than that of the violet end of the visible spectrum but longer than that of X-rays.

Johann Wilhelm Ritter, born on December 16th of 1776, Samitz bei Haynau, Silesia (now Zamience, Poland) is said to be the one who discovered ultraviolet.

It is known that William Herschel discovered infrared and when Johan heard about Herschel’s discovery, he decided to experiment and see if the invisible light existed beyond the violet end of the spectrum. What he found while experimenting after various attempts was that silver chloride was transformed quicker from white to black when placed on the dark part of the sun’s spectrum, close to its violet ends. The word ultraviolet radiation came later after he found the chemical rays. Ultraviolet radiation is electromagnetic radiation or light having a wavelength greater than 100nm but less than 400nm.

Many years later, thanks to this amazing discovery led by curiosity, we are able to use UV in many forms including killing bacteria, sterilization purposes, and disinfection as well as in many printing processes for curing and coatings.  Ultraviolet is even used for beauty purposes like tanning and gel polish manicures.  In science, it is used to study atoms and learn more about the warmer objects in space. Did you know some animals like birds and insects can see the UV light? For more fun facts check out:

Some more jokes to make you smile:

  • What happens if you leave a Barbie doll out in the sun for too long?
  • She gets Barbie-cued!
  • Why didn’t the sun go to college?
  • Because he already had a million degrees!

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