Researcher Uses Cold Plasma Technology to Stop Superbugs

<p>Using new cold plasma technology which he developed in the Plasma Engineering Research Lab (PERL) at Texas A&amp;M University-Corpus Christi, Dr. Magesh Thiyagarajan is stopping these killer bacteria before they find a host.</p>

Dr. Magesh Thiyagarajan

Using new cold plasma technology which he developed in the Plasma Engineering Research Lab (PERL) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Dr. Magesh Thiyagarajan is stopping these killer bacteria before they find a host.     

Traditional plasma is made by heating up gas molecules to form what looks like a colored ray of light.  We see it every day in plasma televisions and fluorescent lights.  In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physics, Thiyagarajan explains that his research team has developed a way to make this happen without using heat and he says when he directs that ray of light called cold plasma at bacteria, what happens is magical.

This is an extremely powerful technology that produces, what are called, reactive oxygen species.  They react with bacteria pathogens, killing them in a matter of seconds, says Thiyagarajan. Because of the higher efficiency, compared to current technologies for sterilization, the cost is much lower.

Traditional hospital sterilization methods included moist-based heat treatments that can take hours to produce required sterilization results.  The time involved and the use of heat makes it impossible to treat every surface in a hospital.  Thiyagarajan says cold plasma does not have the same constraints at traditional methods of sterilization.

What healthy people do need to worry about is getting sick from the food they eat. According to the CDC, one in six people will get sick this year from food borne illness.  These illnesses, which come from bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death. 

This cold plasma technology can also be used for food sterilization, says Thiyagarajan.  Almost daily, you hear about food recalls on the news. From poultry to produce, this new technology can be used to sterilize all of these food products.

Just like in a hospital setting, cold plasma is more effective at killing the bacteria on food and is also cheaper than current methods being used.  .

Source: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

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