The rendering illustrates NASA’s door lever design, with pathogens on the surface. After the door handle is used, the device emits a column of UV-C light that surrounds and disinfects the surface. (Image: NASA)

Studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible COVID-19, can survive for up to three days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces, two materials that are commonly used to manufacture these high-touch surfaces. New methods are needed to rapidly disinfect such high-touch surfaces at low cost. In response to this issue, engineers at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center developed the Ultraviolet Germicidal Door Handle. This compact and easy-to-install door lever or handle performs automatic self-decontamination after each use.

UV sterilization systems have been used before for door handles. However, such systems often require bulky mounting equipment, possess sub-optimal aesthetics, and are high price point products leaving significant room for improvement. To overcome the limitations of using cleaning agents, sprays, or bulky high-cost sterilizing systems, NASA developed the Ultraviolet Germicidal Door Handle.

This invention largely resembles a conventional door handle; however, it contains a compact, far UV-C LED light device that attaches to the handle via mounting threads and disinfects surfaces (i.e., kills or inactivates pathogens). The device is controlled by a sensor that activates the UV-C light for a specified time to disinfect the surface after each use. After disinfection is completed, a timer sequence switches the light off and prepares for the next use. Due to the simple, thread-based mounting system, the UV-C LED is easily removable from the door handle. The UV-C LED has several convenient features including a USB charging port, I/O switch, and low battery indicator light.

The Ultraviolet Germicidal Door Handle greatly minimizes the risk of harmful pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, being transmitted between people using the same door.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact NASA’s Licensing Concierge at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 202-358-7432 to initiate licensing discussions. For more information, visit here .