IIT-G students build pocket-sized device to sanitise surfaces


PTI, Jul 7, 2020, 8:48 PM IST

Guwahati: The fear of contracting COVID-19 from touching surfaces has prompted many people to clean doorknobs and wipe elevator keys, but all that could soon be a thing of the past as two IIT-Guwahati students have now claimed to have built a device that could disinfect objects.

‘UV-Astra’, a nano Ultra-Violet (UV) device, can kill viruses and bacteria and sterilise surfaces within three seconds, its creators Anant Mittal and Shubham Yennawar, both civil engineering students at the institute, insisted.

Mittal, who has applied for a patent for the device, said that “UV-Astra will prove to be the best affordable personal protection weapon against the virus.”

It could also disinfect Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for reuse, he said.

“Ultra-violet light is known to disinfect properties. Our solution uses a very low-power UV light that does not cause any harm. The pocket-sized device, with a sterilisation rate of 99.9 per cent, is for personal use and can be powered by mobile phones. It has a service life of 5,000 hours,” he said.

Mittal, who runs a tech startup Racerfly, said it took the two of them several weeks to come up with the module for the device, which weighs less than 10 grams and is about three centimetres long.

‘Astra’ in Hindi means a weapon to attack the enemy, and this device has been named ‘UV-Astra’ as it would aid in the fight against viruses and bacteria, Mittal said.

The challenge was to make UV sterilization handy and affordable for all and after many trials “we came up with this device which looks like a pen drive with a hard metal case to protect the module,” the civil engineering student explained.

“UV-Astra is set to become the new normal. It is an all-time protection device. Now no one needs to worry about touching surfaces when he or she steps out of homes,” he said.

Mittal’s RacerFly team had earlier developed a drone that has an automatic sprayer embedded in it and can sanitise large areas including parks and footpaths within 15 minutes.

T G Sitharam, the director of the institute, said the IIT-Guwahati community, comprising faculty, staff, students and alumni, is working tirelessly to develop innovative solutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The institute is continuously pushing limits and thriving hard to serve the nation by developing innovative and affordable products to fight COVID-19, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to make the country self- reliant (Atmanirbhar Bharat),” he added.

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