Scientists have created a handheld, battery-powered “plasma flashlight” that can instantly rid skin of bacteria.
The development of the device, reported in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, could provide a new weapon in the war on microbes and be used in ambulance emergency calls, natural disaster sites and military combat operations.
The team of researchers from China and Australia who produced the flashlight said it works by using plasma – the fourth state of matter in addition to solids, liquids and gases – to kill bacteria and viruses on the surface of the skin and in water.
Tests by the team found the device effectively inactivated a thick layer of common antibiotic- and heat-resistant bacteria -- Enterococcus faecalis – which often infects the root canals during dental treatments.
"The device can be easily made and costs less than $100 to produce,” said researcher Kostya Ostrikov, from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre Australia. “Of course, some miniaturization and engineering design may be needed to make it more appealing and ready for commercialization."
The device is powered by a 12-volt battery and is designed to stay cool to the touch, researchers said.