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Plasma pencil kills germs
The wand developed by an ODU professor looks like a flame, but it isn't hot. Scientists have so far used it to kill E. coli.
BY JOY BUCHANAN
October 7, 2005
NORFOLK -- Physicist Mounir Laroussi walks quickly through the gray, empty space that greets him when the elevators open to the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics on Southampton Avenue.
He enters a hall and unlocks a wooden door to his lab. On a worktable lies a small, plastic wand that you might not have noticed in the midst of tall metal helium tanks, computers and assorted machines.
But the wand is the most interesting thing in the room.
Laroussi calls it the "plasma pencil." Plasma is a substance made of energized atomic particles that's created when gas is electrified. It's considered the fourth state of matter besides solids, liquids and gases.
The pencil generates a "cold plasma," which can be used to kill germs that contaminate surfaces, infect wounds and rot your teeth. In the future, it might be used to destroy tumors without damaging surrounding tissue. Laroussi, an associate professor at Old Dominion University, hopes the beam will soon find its way into doctors' and dentists' offices.
When he turns the pencil on, it blows a high pitched whistle as a glowing, blue-violet beam about 2 inches long instantly appears at one end. Stick your finger in its path and you only feel a cool breeze, but the beam is powerful enough to blast apart bacteria that's crawling on your skin.
edited by Byrd. Please don't cut and paste entirre articles.
It's like a mini blowtorch without the heat.
Plasma is a substance made of energized atomic particles that's created when gas is electrified.
Originally posted by Thain Esh Kelch
Could someone fill in on the physics, because I would like to know how the plasma can make such a perfect 'pole', and just stop in midair?
Originally posted by lost_shaman
Here is another article about Cold Plasma that talks about "Star Wars " applications.
On Earth, cold plasmas should permit rapid, room-temperature sterilization of food, medical equipment and contaminated civilian and military gear. Low-temperature plasmas could one day also make possible an entire new generation of miniature lasers and ultra-low-energy fluorescent light tubes.
Cold plasmas allow for rapid decontamination of clothing, equipment or personal gear. In disrupting the integrity of cell membranes, the plasmas appear to offer a rapid, simple and inexpensive means of destroying even the hardiest bacterial spores. At present, sterilization time can run hours; use of a cold plasma could sanitize in mere minutes.