In brief: Bathroom doors, especially public ones, can be a messy thing to handle. That's why two graduates from the University of Hong Kong have come forward with a door handle that uses UV light to constantly sterilize itself and claim their solution to be more effective than current chemical-based cleaning techniques.

Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li have invented a door handle that people might actually want to use, considering that it employs light-sterilization that's deemed to be a better alternative than most current solutions.

The students were motivated by an outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the early 2000s, which was due to a virus spread by small mammals in China. The epidemic sickened over 8,000 people in 2003 and claimed the lives of 774, mostly in China and Hong Kong, according to the World Health Organization.

To reduce the spread of such viruses, Wong and Li developed the "self-sanitizing door handle" out of a glass tube in the middle and two aluminum caps at both ends. The handle is covered by a special photocatalytic coating made from titanium dioxide and is powered by an internal generator that converts kinetic energy (door movement) into light energy to continuously power the UV light.

"We knew that many infections can spread out by contact, for example, SARS, MERS, Foot and Mouth Disease and Candida auris," said the students, and since public bathroom door handles are usually the hotspots for bacteria, they believe their design to be durable and effective as opposed to chemical cleaning materials that get wiped off easily and are harmful to the human body.

In lab tests, the UV door handle was able to destroy around 99.8 percent of microbes and is also one of the winning entries in the 2019 James Dyson Awards, the UK-based competition that recognizes and celebrates the world's best in student design and engineering.