Although the exact mechanism behind the anti-bacterial effect of plasma is largely unknown, it is thought that reactions between the plasma and the air surrounding it create a cocktail of reactive species that are similar to the ones found in our own immune system.
The researchers ran an analysis to see what species were present in the plasma and found that highly-reactive nitrogen- and oxygen-related species dominated the results. Ultraviolet radiation has also been theorised as a reason behind plasma's success; however, this was shown to be low in the jet created by the plasma flashlight, adding to the safety aspect of the device.
The temperature of the plume of plasma in the experiments was between 20-230C, which is very close to room temperature and therefore prevents any damage to the skin. The device itself is fitted with resistors to stop it heating up and making it safe to touch.
"The device can be easily made and costs less than 100 US dollars to produce. Of course, some miniaturisation and engineering design may be needed to make it more appealing and ready for commercialisation," Ostrikov continued.
The device was created by an international team of researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sydney and the City University of Hong Kong.
|Contact: Michael Bishop|
Institute of Physics