Divers on boat
Divers on boat

Sunburn can ruin a scuba diving holiday, but you could soon tell when to cover up thanks to an early warning sunburn indicator, developed by Queen’s University Belfast.

Researchers at Queen’s have developed a strip of plastic, containing ‘smart’ ink, which turns colourless from an initial blue colour just before exposure to too much ultraviolet light from the sun, prompting you to cover up before you burn.

The plastic strip, worn as a bracelet, changes colour at a speed that depends on the wearer’s skin type.

The technology was developed by Dr David Hazafy from Queen’s University’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, who has been awarded £85,000 to develop the research into a viable commercial product.

Dr Hazafy said: “The sunburn indicator works by using a photocatalyst and a redox dye in which the former absorbs the ultraviolet light and uses its energy to drive the change in the colour of the dye. The sunlight, or the total UV component, is collected throughout the day so the user is aware of the total dose of the harmful irradiation received by the band and warned when it nears the level which causes sunburn.

“Based on a metal oxide photocatalyst, this simple and inexpensive sunburn indicator should warn people when they are receiving too much of the UV component of sunlight, and prompt them to seek shade,” he added.

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