Plasma Flashlight Torches Bacteria

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The handheld device could help promote sterilization in remote locations.

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A collaborative team of scientists from several research institutes in China and Australia has developed a hand held, battery-powered plasma flashlight for removing bacteria from skin and other surfaces. The device was designed for use by paramedics or the military when treatment or sterilization is required in remote locations.

The device is self-contained and operates on a 12V battery without the need for an external gas feed or power. It generates a jet of plasma between 20-23°C (68-73.4°F), so that it won't harm the skin and contains some protection circuitry to prevent overheating.

The researchers demonstrated the effectiveness of their prototype device by treating thick bacterial biofilms for up to five minutes with the plasma flashlight and measuring the bactericidal effect. Their results are published in the latest edition of Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

The research team has suggested that the device may cost as little as $100 to manufacture and a significant amount of miniaturization would be possible to reduce the size of their bulky prototype.


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

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