Ultraviolet has a higher frequency (thus a shorter wavelength) than violet light. UV radiation was discovered in 1801 when the German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter observed that invisible rays just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum darkened silver chloride-soaked paper more quickly than violet light itself.


The terms "chemical rays" and "heat rays" were eventually dropped in favor of ultraviolet and infrared radiation, respectively. In 1878, the sterilizing effect of short-wavelength light by killing bacteria was discovered.


By 1903, the most effective wavelengths were known to be around 250 nm.


This technology was pioneered by the NIXT and MSSTA sounding rockets in the 1990s, and it has been used to make telescopes for solar imaging.

UV diode-pumped solid state lasers have been demonstrated using cerium-doped lithium strontium aluminum fluoride crystals (Ce:LiSAF), a process developed in the 1990s at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


These are often the emitting sources in UV spectroscopy equipment for chemical analysis. Other UV sources with more continuous emission spectra include xenon arc lamps (commonly used as sunlight simulators), deuterium arc lamps, mercury-xenon arc lamps, and metal-halide arc lamps. The excimer lamp, a UV source developed in the early 2000s, is seeing increasing use in scientific fields.


that was published in 2006, the amount of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured in untreated and in sunscreen treated skin.


A set of stained-glass color-reference chips is planned to be used to calibrate the color cameras for the 2019 ESA Mars rover mission, since they will remain unfaded by the high level of UV present at the surface of Mars. Common soda–lime glass, such as window glass, is partially transparent to UVA, but is opaque to shorter wavelengths, passing about 90% of the light above 350 nm, but blocking over 90% of the light below 300 nm.

In 2019, following significant advances over the preceding five years, UV‑A LEDs of 365 nm and longer wavelength were available, with efficiencies of 50% at 1.0 W output.

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