Plasma Gas Hand Sanitizer

A plasma gas hand sanitizer that makes human hands clean enough for hospitals has been developed. As someone who went out with a number of nurses, I can tell you that they all have good reason to complain about the damage that frequent hand washing with serious chemicals (50-100 times per shift) can do to their hands.


(Plasma gas sterilizes hands)

The technology is being developed in several laboratories. Gregor Morfill, who created several prototypes using the technology at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, says the plasma quickly inactivates not only bacteria but also viruses and fungi...

Plasmas engineered to zap microorganisms aren’t new. During the last decade, they have come into use to sterilize some medical instruments. But using them on human tissue is another matter, said Mark Kushner, director of the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering and a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Many thousands of volts drive the generation of plasma,” he said, “and normally one doesn’t want to touch thousands of volts.” But the design of the new hand sanitizers, he said, protects people from doing so. Reassured by that design, about five years ago he put his naked thumb into a jet of microbe-destroying plasma at the lab of another plasma researcher.

“It was just one of those leaps of faith,” he said. (His thumb survived just fine.)

The devices can probably be built for $100 or less, as no expensive parts are used.

SF fans have seen this one coming. In the Babylon 5 episode Signs and Portents, Garibaldi and Sinclair use the men's room, then sterilize their hands under a purplish light.

Via NYTimes; thanks to Kim and Winchell Chung for the story tip and reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/14/2010)

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