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Scientists invent 'ray gun' for cleaning medical wounds29th of May 2012
Doctors may soon be using a plasma 'ray gun' to blast away bacteria when cleaning skin and wounds.
The hand-held plasma blaster is claimed to be able to penetrate 17 layers of bacteria including heat-resistant and antibiotic-resistant strains.
The device has been created by a team of researchers from China, Hong Kong and Australia. When the ray gun was tested, five minutes of exposure to the plasma ray burned through 25 micrometres of 17 different layers of bacteria. The fact that the plasma's heat ranges from 20 to 23°C means it will not cause damage to the skin, say scientists.
The plasma not only inactivated the top layer of cells in the trial, but also penetrated deep into the bottom layers to kill the bacteria. The plasma ray gun cost only US$ 100 to manufacture and requires just one 5V battery to produce enough cold plasma to kill bacteria.
Co-author of the research study Professor Kostya Ostrikov from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre Australia said: "The action of plasma on bacteria is not fully understood, but it is thought that reactions between the plasma and the air surrounding it create a cocktail of reactive species that are similar to the ones found in our own immune system."
Ostrikov said that the bacteria-blasting ray gun would have obvious benefits for killing bacteria in medical emergencies and for operations in war zones and natural disaster sites.