Cold atmospheric plasma
From basic research to practical application
What is cold atmospheric plasma?
“Plasma” is an ionized gas – the so-called fourth state of matter (the others being solid, liquid and gas) – and is generated by being energized up to 100,000 degrees or more. Natural examples for plasmas are the sun – a gigantic plasma ball – or lightning on Earth – temporary electrical discharges.
Cold atmospheric plasmas (CAP) are partially ionized gases, that means only one particle out of 1 ∙ 109 is ionized. The advantage of cold atmospheric plasmas is that they are “cold”, within the meaning that they operate under room temperature and can be produced at atmospheric pressure on Earth.
Generally, cold atmospheric plasma generates a reactive mix of electrons, ions, excited atoms and molecules, reactive species (e.g. O3, NO, NO2, etc.), UV radiation and heat. This mix inactivates bacteria, fungi, viruses, spores as well as odour molecules very efficiently.
Extensive research, employing various technologies to generate cold atmospheric plasmas, showed that the resultant mixture of electrons, ions, excited atoms and molecules, reactive species (such as O3, NO, NO2, etc.), UV radiation and heat can vary significantly for different plasma sources and that it can also be modified for specific purposes. In other words, the concentration and the composition of the plasma components can be adapted (or designed) for different intended applications.
Therefore, terraplasma has developed a pool of different cold plasma technologies and is continuously working on further refinement and optimisation.
Cold plasma and its characteristics
Cold atmospheric plasma is characterized by diversity and flexibility. Within the range of all potential and already existing plasma sources, the following features dominate:
Successful fight against microorganisms and odour molecules
Cold atmospheric plasma inactivates very efficiently bacteria (regardless of the specie and the resistance level to antibiotics), fungi, viruses, spores and odour molecules.
Less than 40 degrees
Cold atmospheric plasma is “cold” and can be applied to temperature-sensitive materials or surfaces and human tissue.
For the production of cold atmospheric plasma only electricity and ambient air is required. No waste management required.
The plasma chemistry, which the “plasma cocktail” generated by plasma, can and must be designed individually for each and every application – e.g. for medical technology or water treatment.
Cold atmospheric plasma is generated at atmospheric pressure and can therefore easily be applied on Earth.
Agile and adaptable
Cold atmospheric plasma is a gas and is therefore able to access complex surface structures as well as thin/narrow capillaries.
Safe application – our foremost priority
Process safety and health integrity for you as our valued customer and/or user of our plasma sources is guaranteed by our compliance of the five security features:
No current flow through skin
We use so-called “indirect plasma sources” in which the patient does not act as a counter electrode and consequently there is no current flow through the patient.
Within the world’s first and largest clinical trial with cold plasma (over a period of eight years) terraplasma’s technology was tested and found to be safe for application. New plasma sources are scaled and tested according to the gained clinical data.
The concentration of produced trace gases such as O3, NO or NO2 must be below the statutory legal limits.
Low UV radiation
The design of plasma sources must aim to only produce a minimum of UV radiation (especially UV-C and UV-B). Limits for intact human skin must not be exceeded.
Cell and tissue research
Before cold plasma equipment is authorized for application, research on eukaryotic cells and tissue must be carried out in vitro and ex vivo. These tests include vitality, toxicity and mutagenicity analyses as well as investigations to ensure exclusion of the induction of histological changes and DNA damage.