A battery-powered, hand-held plasma-emitting device created by Chinese and Australian scientists could speed wound sterilization in the field.
In a disaster zone, whether it’s the aftermath of a tornado or on a battleground, emergency medical personnel have to work fast to save lives. In an effort to speed good care, scientists have developed a handheld, battery-operated “flashlight” that can instantly sterilize wounds by beaming plasma at bacteria.
[...] Powered by a normal
12-volt battery and operating in open air without a gas supply, the
prototype, which they call a plasma flashlight, should be
portable enough to take anywhere. "It generates the plasma even being
disconnected from wall power, even using very low power," says group
member Kostya Ostrikov of CSIRO Materials Science and
Engineering in Lindfield, Australia.
Light therapy . A portable plasma flashlight can kill bacteria in minutes. (Credit: X. Pei et al., Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics)
Credit: X. Pei et al., Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics (2012)
Plasma jet circuit, powered by a 12 V DC battery at 60 mW. It generates ~20 kHz pulses with ~100 ns duration. (Credit: X. Pei et al./IOP Publishing)
In an experiment, the plasma flashlight effectively inactivated a thick biofilm with 17 different layers of one of the most antibiotic- and heat-resistant bacteria, Enterococcus faecalis — which often infects root canals during dental treatments.
The plasma penetrated deep into the very bottom of the layers to kill the bacteria in five minutes.
It can be easily made and costs less than $100 to produce. No external power or gas feed is required. It operates at close to room temperature and prevents damage to the skin.