Scientists at Rutgers University have come up with a way to produce paper-based plasma generators that can kill microbes on contact. The paper-based devices produced plasma that deactivated 99% of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli cells with 30 s of treatment.
The sanitizer paper works by producing ‘plasma,’ a combination of heat, ultraviolet radiation and ozone which act together to kill microbes when electricity is applied to the thin layers of aluminum which run through it. The porous nature of the paper means that gas can easily pass through, which has the combined effect of fueling the plasma and cooling the paper down.
“Paper is an ancient material, but it has unique attributes for new, high-tech applications,” said Aaron Mazzeo, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University. “We found that by applying high voltage to stacked sheets of metallized paper, we were able to generate plasma, which is a combination of heat, ultraviolet radiation and ozone that kill microbes.”
“Preliminary results showed that our sanitizers can kill spores from bacteria, which are hard to kill using conventional sterilization methods,” said Qiang (Richard) Chen, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant Biology in Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
“Our next phase is to vigorously test how effective our sanitizer system is in killing spores,” continued James F. White Jr., professor of plant pathology in the Department of Plant Biology at Rutgers.
Future uses of this type of plasma generator might include the sanitization of protective garments, origami- or kirigami-like devices and human–machine user interfaces in healthcare and/or contaminated environments.
The results of this study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.