Plasma: From Lightning to Medical Applications

Sylwia Ptasinska

Tuesday September 27th 2016 - 7:00 pm ET

101 Jordan Hall of Science

Electrical plasma, considered as the fourth state of matter, is an ionized gas composed of charged particles (ions, electrons), radicals, and neutral species (excited atoms and molecules). They come in two classifications: thermal (hot) or non-thermal (cold) plasmas.

Hot plasmas being an abundant naturally occurring phenomena, e.g., the sun, polar aurora, lightning. At the end of the 20th century, hot plasmas were well established in industry although many customers and users are unaware of their use. Important industrial areas are light bulbs, modification of polymer materials, waste and air pollution management, microelectronics, flat panel displays, and many more.

Cold plasmas, operate near room temperatures and can be used to treat heat-sensitive surfaces and living tissues. In the last decade, the use of such cold atmospheric plasmas for medical purposes has attracted much attention as it can be implemented in various medical devices to inactivate bacteria, fungi, viruses and spores, to coagulate blood, to sterilize wounds, to sterilize surgical instruments, to transfect cells, and to treat tissue scaffolds.

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