Deactivation of Escherichia Coli by the plasma needle

R.E.J. Sladek, E. Stoffels - Adamowicz

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In this paper we present a parameter study on deactivation of Escherichia coli (E. coli) by means of a non-thermal plasma (plasma needle). The plasma needle is a small-sized (1 mm) atmospheric glow sustained by radio-frequency excitation. This plasma will be used to disinfect heat-sensitive objects; one of the intended applications is in vivo deactivation of dental bacteria: destruction of plaque and treatment of caries. We use E. coli films plated on agar dishes as a model system to optimize the conditions for bacterial destruction. Plasma power, treatment time and needle-to-sample distance are varied. Plasma treatment of E. coli films results in formation of a bacteria-free void with a size up to 12 mm. 10/sup 4/-10/sup 5/ colony forming units are already destroyed after 10 s of treatment. Prolongation of treatment time and usage of high powers do not significantly improve the destruction efficiency: short exposure at low plasma power is sufficient. Furthermore, we study the effects of temperature increase on the survival of E. coli and compare it with thermal effects of the plasma. The population of E. coli heated in a warm water bath starts to decrease at temperatures above 40 degrees C. Sample temperature during plasma treatment has been monitored. The temperature can reach up to 60 degrees C at high plasma powers and short needle-to-sample distances. However, thermal effects cannot account for bacterial destruction at low power conditions. For safe and efficient in vivo disinfection, the sample temperature should be kept low. Thus, plasma power and treatment time should not exceed 150 mW and 60 s, respectively
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1716-1721
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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