Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

The Global
Information Hub for
Lighting Technologies
and Design

Home > Technologies > Health, Environment & Well-Being > 3D Bio-Optical Models Reveals How the Human Body Uses the Entire Solar Spectrum
Technologies | Research | Publications | Health | Human Centric Lighting | Mar 26, 2019

3D Bio-Optical Models Reveals How the Human Body Uses the Entire Solar Spectrum

History teaches that global changes to the public's environment mandate a higher level of scrutiny to ensure that we first do no harm. In "Melatonin and the Optics of the Human Body" published in the journal Melatonin Research, Zimmerman and Reiter combine optical ray tracing from lighting and ESR data from the medical industry to model for the first time the 3D free radical distributions generate by lighting sources in the human body.

The article suggests how the interaction between melatonin and sunlight may play a much broader role in our health than existing circadian theory suggests. The 3D bio-optical models show that Near Infrared (NIR) uniquely interacts with the majority of adult cells and up to 100% of the cells in the fetus and young children. The work supports the premise that the body assumes that we are exposed to predominately NIR emitters (Sun, moon, fire) and that the body uses NIR to protect us from the damaging effects of the UV and Visible. The absence of NIR in visible only emitters (LED, OLED, CFL) appears to lead to higher oxidative stress and may provide a direct link to diseases that are on the rise in modern society.

The optics of the eye, womb, skin, and brain are shown to collect and localize NIR in some of our most sensitive tissues. The recent realization that mitochondria produces melatonin in virtually all cells in quantities that are orders of magnitude greater than the amount produced in the pineal gland supports instead the existence of a subcellular melatonin reservoir stimulated in part by NIR.

Ironically for the last 60 years, the public has been exposed to therapeutic levels of NIR by incandescent bulbs in their homes mediating the possible negative impact of fluorescents and supporting better sleep. This is no longer the case. The elimination of NIR from modern society is occurring not only because of visible only LED lighting, but also via low E glass (blocks NIR) and concerns over skin cancer reducing time in natural sunlight. In a sense a perfect storm has been created.

Based on this work, a review of the literature, and the lack of research into the biological impact of visible only emitters, the article suggests that it is time for the lighting and medical community to work together.

Free access to the article is available with registration at:

About Melatonin Research Journal:

Melatonin Research is an open access blind peer review academic journal which provides a platform for all researchers who can freely exchange their ideas, research experience and study results in melatonin and/or its related research fields. Melatonin Research fully considers publications of original scientific results from basic to applied research work as well as hypotheses and reviews.

Further discussions on this topic was also available and posted on the IES technical forum FIRES.


NICHIA Unveils High Radiant Flux Density UV-C LED

NICHIA Unveils High Radiant Flux Density UV-C LED NICHIA, the world’s largest LED manufacturer and inventor of the high-brightness blue and white LED, has launched a high radiant flux density UV-C LED that can help target the inactivation and sterilization of various bacteria and viruses, including the new coronavirus. Read more »


Zhaga Summit: "Sustainable Lighting for Smart Cities and Buildings"

Zhaga Summit: "Sustainable Lighting for Smart Cities and Buildings" Sustainability is a major trend in the lighting industry, driven by regulations and requested by customers and society. The Zhaga Consortium is hosting this online event on 29 September, 15:00 – 18:00 CEST with speakers from national authorities, cities, industry association, lighting design and ... Read more »


Near-field Analysis of VCSEL Arrays

Near-field Analysis of VCSEL Arrays The VTC 4000 is Instrument System‘s VCSEL testing camera for comprehensive near-field analysis of complete VCSEL arrays. It enables the absolutely calibrated, traceable and polarization-controlled 2D characterization of all relevant parameters for every single emitter on the array. The VTC 4000, ... Read more »