Plasma-blasting, battery-powered flashlight kills bacteria on the spot

Plasma-blasting,-battery-powered-flashlight-kills-bacteria-on-the-spot

Forget using dainty bottles of smelly hand sanitizer, or making endless trips to the restroom to wash your hands. A new digital solution has emerged for our high-tech times.

According to the Institute of Physics, Australian and Chinese scientists have developed a new way of battling bacteria by utilizing a battery-powered, handheld plasma-producing flashlight that can eradicate bacteria on the skin in an instant.

Appearing in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, the plasma-producing flashlight is powered by a 12-volt battery that is free of any externally powered gas feed or wall power, and can generate a plume of plasma between 20-23°C (68-73.4°F), which is enough heat to deliver a bacteria-killing death blow, but not enough to harm your skin. To prevent undesirable heat-build up – and to prevent users from inadvertently burning themselves — the device is outfitted with heat resistors helping to keep it from overheating. (Apple, are you listening?)

During an experiment conducted by the researchers, which consisted of scientists from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sydney and the City University of Hong Kong, the plasma flashlight proved capable of effectively neutralizing thick biofilms of Enterococcus faecalis – one of the most antibiotic- and heat-resistant bacterium commonly known to infect root canals during dental treatments.

Plasma-FlashlightBy incubating the bacteria for seven days, researchers were able to create 17 different layers of bacteria. After creating the various layers, the team treated each layer with a blast of plasma from the device. After only five minutes, the blast was able to penetrate the bottom layer and inactivate the bacteria altogether.

“The bacteria form thick biofilms, which makes them enormously resistant against inactivation which is extremely difficult to implement,” said co-author of the study, Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov, from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre Australia, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, explaining that normally high temperatures are used to inactivate the bacteria, but that an alternate solution had to be utilized in order to prevent the skin burns

“In this study we chose an extreme example to demonstrate that the plasma flashlight can be very effective even at room temperature,” explained Ostrikov. “For individual bacteria, the inactivation time could be just tens of seconds.”

Perhaps even more intriguing than the plasma flashlight is the fact that the scientists themselves don’t seem to understand exactly how it works. Reactions between the plasma and the surrounding air, as well as ultraviolet radiation, has been suggested as possible reasons. While plasma has been previously known to kill bacteria and viruses on the surface of skin and in water, however, the exact mechanism behind it all is still not fully understood.

Regardless, the team says the device is safe to use and can be easily manufactured for less than $100. Although they admit that some tweaks and modifications would need to be made to make it more appealing for commercialization. Still, we think the idea of pew-pewing any germs off our hands is pretty amazing, especially if it’s cheap and safe. So long, Purell.

Emerging Tech

Does a steam-powered spacecraft hold the key to exploring the solar system?

A newly developed spacecraft prototype capable of using steam as a propellent may help the first miners survey potential dig sites and identify space rocks best fit for mining missions. Future versions may be fitted with sensors, allowing…
Smart Home

Need to dry your locks? Here are the best hairdryers in every price range

Whether your hair is straight, wavy, long, or short, a hairdryer can make life easier (and get you dry quickly). Here are some of the best hairdryers on the market, with different price points.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are better and more affordable. These are the best of 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Forget police helicopters, California cops are using drones to spot suspects

Police drones deployed by California’s Chula Vista Police Department helped lead to the arrest of 20 suspects over a three-month study. It's a glimpse of the future of drones in law enforcement.
Smart Home

Ford’s ingenious bed for couples keeps mattress hogs in their own half

Drawing on its driverless-car technology, Ford has created a smart bed for couples that uses sensors and a conveyor belt to prevent either occupant from straying onto the other half of the mattress while they doze.
Emerging Tech

Own a drone? New rule means you have to change the way IDs are displayed

Registered drone owners will need to put their machine's ID number on the outside of the aircraft from February 23 in accordance with a new FAA rule. It means the ID can no longer be placed inside the drone's battery compartment.
Emerging Tech

After Kepler kicks the bucket, NASA releases its final image

The final images from the Kepler Space Telescope have arrived. After nearly a decade of operation, NASA’s groundbreaking telescope ran out of fuel last year and was placed into permanent sleep mode on October 30, 2018.
Emerging Tech

Caltech’s bird-inspired robot uses thrusters to help stay on its feet

Researchers from Caltech have developed a new bird-inspired robot that uses thrusters on its torso to help it to walk with more stability. Here's why that challenge is so important.
Mobile

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

Groundbreaking new technique can turn plastic waste into energy-dense fuel

The world has a waste plastic problem. Chemists from Purdue University have a potentially game changing solution: They want to turn it into a gasoline or diesel-like fuel. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

NASA has officially called it quits on its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, eight months after last hearing from the lander. The Rover landed on the Red Planet in early 2004.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.