Belfast Telegraph

QUB sunburn alert bracelet award

By Nevin Farrell

Sun-worshippers could soon know when to retreat to the shade thanks to an early warning burn 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 just before exposure to too much sun. The theory is that the colour change will prompt people to take action before they burn.

The plastic strip, worn as a bracelet, changes colour at a speed that depends on the wearer's skin type and can be worn at the same time as sun lotion.

It is just one of a number of novel products based on 'photocatalysis', which has received a national award. The technology was developed by Dr David Hazafy, from Queen's University's School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, who has been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering's Enterprise fellowship.

This gives academics £85,000 each to develop their research into viable commercial products.

Dr Hazafy's spin-out company, SunCatalyst Laboratories, uses photocatalysts which work by harvesting energy from sunlight to create chemical reactions.

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 is collected throughout the day so the user... is warned when it nears the level which causes sunburn."

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