Plasma Jets and Living Tissue

Project Type: Biomechanics

Project Information

Project Description:

Plasma JetThe task is to design, build and experiment with an atmospheric pressure plasma jet (APPJ).  Several types of APPJs will be developed to produce a hand-held device with sufficient plasma volume for reasonable surface exposure but cold enough to treat human skin.  Experiments will be conducted to determine the sterilization effects of the plasma jet on skin and on non-hazardous bacteria cultured in Petri dishes (agar plates).  Bacteria colonies will be grown from contact with untreated skin and from skin treated with plasma and with soap & water.  Conversely, non-hazardous bacteria will be cultured and divided into untreated colonies and those treated with plasma.  Exposure durations will be studied for sterilization effectiveness and compared with the available literature.  Other experiments may be devised.

Level of Difficulty: Medium


plasma, electron temperature, ion temperature, barrier discharge, corona, aerobic, anaerobic, tryptic soy agar, staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium minutissimum, Propionibacterium acnes, incubator, autoclave, pathogens, sterilization vs. sanitation


Topala, et al., “Effects of Helium Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jet on Biological Molecules,” Plasma Physics Laboratory, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iasi, Romania

Vijay Nehra, et al., “Atmospheric Non-Thermal Plasma Sources,” Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar, India

Team Roles

Electrical Engineer (2) – Electrical Engineers on the project are responsible for the design and development of a high-frequency, high-voltage power source to generate barrier-discharge plasmas.  The source must be variable in frequency, pulse width and voltage to produce plasmas that are optimized for various treatment modes.

Mechanical Engineer (2) – Mechanical Engineers on the project are responsible for the integration of the power system, gas mixing system, and a hand-held plasma wand.  The assembly must be safe to use (high voltage) and easy to transport.  Care must be taken that applying the APPJ does not contaminate the target skin or material.  Furthermore, the gas flow rate must be measured accurately as a treatment parameter.

Plasma Physicist (2) – The Plasma Physicists are responsible for the design of the APPJ discharge chamber and insulated electrodes.  The final APPJ design may be a single jet or a cluster of multiple jets to obtain short treatment times.  The Plasma Physicists must work closely with the engineers to develop a tightly integrated system.

Microbiologist (2) – The Microbiologists on the project are responsible for conducting and evaluating the bacterial growth experiments.  The responsibility includes preparing the agar plates, growing the bacteria cultures, and identifying the types of bacteria.

Physician (Internist) (2) – The Physicians on the project work closely with the Microbiologists to conduct treatment experiments on human skin.  Treatment durations and plasma parameters will be correlated with sterilization effects.  Results will be compared with results obtained by others.  Furthermore, the Physicians and Microbiologists are responsible for devising other experiments that may involve soil bacteria or E-coli.

Journalist (1) – The Journalist documents the project’s progress on the website, communicates with the local media, and is responsible for a final report to the principal sponsors and Power Mountain Engineering.  The Journalist also works closely with the Multimedia Artist to provide video and graphic art displays for demonstrations that explain the project to the public.  The whole project is your project.

Multimedia Artist (1) – The Artist also documents the project’s progress on the website and works with the Journalist to maintain the project’s presence on social media.  Additionally, the Artist designs and organizes all public relations events to assure spectator safety and to enhance the community’s awareness of science and technology.  The whole project is your project.

Business Manager (1) – The Business Manager is responsible for reporting the project’s progress against a predetermined schedule, determines critical path items to completion, and tracks project spending to assure that costs remain within a fixed budget.  The Manager works with all team members to identify problems early and resolve them quickly.  The whole project is your project.

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