A viologen-based UV indicator and dosimeter

Mills, A. and McFarlane, Michael and Schneider, Stefan (2006) A viologen-based UV indicator and dosimeter. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 386 (2). pp. 299-305. ISSN 1618-2642

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A UV indicator/dosimeter based on benzyl viologen (BV2+) encapsulated in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is described. Upon exposure to UV light, the BV2+/PVA film turns a striking purple colour due to the formation of the cation radical, BV center dot+. The usual oxygen sensitivity of BV center dot+ is significantly reduced due to the very low oxygen permeability of the encapsulating polymer, PVA. Exposure of a typical BV2+/PVA film, for a set amount of time, to UVB light with different UV indices produces different levels of BV center dot+, as measured by the absorbance of the film at 550 nm. A plot of the change in absorbance at this wavelength, Delta Abs(550), as a function of UV index, UVI, produces a linear calibration curve which allows the film to be used as a UVB indicator, and a similar procedure could be employed to allow it to be used as a solar UVI indicator. A typical BV2+/PVA film generates a significant, semi-permanent (stable for > 24 h) saturated purple colour (absorbance similar to 0.8-0.9) upon exposure to sunlight equivalent to a minimal erythemal dose associated with Caucasian skin, i.e. skin type II. The current drawbacks of the film and the possible future use of the BV2+/PVA film as a personal solar UV dosimeter for all skin types are briefly discussed.