Imagine having a light on your phone that disinfects surfaces? This NC State researcher is developing a way

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Imagine if you had a light on your phone that you could shine on the bathroom doorknob and kill all the germs before you touch that knob - a light you could also shine on the toilet and disinfect it.

Something like that could put a real dent in the spread of a virus.

It's not science fiction, according to North Carolina State University (NCSU) researcher Ramón Collazo who told ABC11, "This is a possible technology and something that many people are pursuing."

Collazo has been working in a lab on NCSU's Centennial Campus for years to make the use of ultra-violet light for sanitizing more practical.

It's already being used on airplanes and in medical facilities, but those machines are big, bulky and need a direct power source because they use a lot of electricity.

At NCSU they figured out how to how to get UV light from much smaller light-emitting diodes or LEDs.

But they are still trying to figure out how to make those UVLEDs more efficient so they can run off battery power.

"Right now the portability is the key. The portability, that would make it accessible to everybody," Collazo said adding. "You can come in and disinfect particular areas that you are going to touch."

Collazo says while that technology isn't going to be available to help in this pandemic, it will hopefully be here before the next one.

RELATED: State health director talks UV light, COVID-19 cases in meat plants

"We hope in the next five to ten years for sure we will have this technology in such a way as to be able to use it with small power sources."

So it's one thing to sanitize large areas after the fact, but it's another for individuals to be able to use their phones to sanitize objects before the touch them, taking simple and effective sanitizing right to the source.

"If we have a disinfected surface that minimizes the propagation of the virus... that will help us go back to our daily lives much faster."

Of course, if we had known what we know now ten years ago we probably could have come up with enough research money to have this technology today.

Just another one of the many lessons we've learned from COVID-19.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.