Paper to cut through Microbes!

May 4, 20170 comments

A team of researchers from Rutgers has invented an inexpensive and effective way for eliminating bacteria and sanitizing surfaces with devices made of paper.

  Scanning electron micrograph of E.coli 
[By Photo courtesy CDC/Janice Haney Carr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they have explained that, by application of high voltage to stacked sheets of metallized paper, they were able to generate plasma, which is a combination of heat, ultraviolet radiation and ozone that could kill microorganisms. The invention comprises paper with thin layers of aluminum and hexagon patterns serving as electrodes to produce the plasma, or ionized gas. The fibrous and porous nature of paper allows gas to permeate, fueling the plasma and facilitating cooling mechanism.

In the experiments conducted, the paper-based sanitizers demonstrated elimination of over 99 percent of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and more than 99.9 percent of E. coli. Preliminary results also showed that these sanitizers could kill bacterial spores, which are tough to kill using conventional sterilization methods.

According to the researchers of this study, these paper-based-sanitizers could be used in the future, for clothing that sterilizes itself, devices that sanitize laboratory equipment and smart bandages that could heal wounds. The future work of this team aims to develop electronic devices that bridge the gap between machines and humans, while creating new processing techniques for renewable paper products.

Aaron D. Mazzeoa et al. Paper-based plasma sanitizersPNAS, May 2017 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1621203114

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