Determination of the Mechanisms for the Plasma Deactivation of Biomaterials

Period of Performance: 08/12/2002 - 08/12/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Microenergy Technologies, Inc.
2007 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98661
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
902 Battelle Blvd.
Richland, WA 99354
Institution POC


MicroEnergy Technologies (MicroET), CFD Research Corporation (CFD-RC), The Johns Hopkins University- Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU-APL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will search for the mechanisms of plasma deactivation by isolating the possible pathways including ultraviolet light, heat, and ionized gas interactions. Plasma parameters such as the relative concentration of active plasma species in different carrier gases will be measured by mass spectrometry. We will expose an optimized plasma system to a biological simulant and focus on biomaterial deactivation as a function of plasma parameters. In addition, we will use state-of-the-art CFD tools to model a novel plasma surface decontamination system known as the plasma blanket. This novel plasma blanket design produces an atmospheric pressure, low temperature ionized gas that has demonstrated very efficient deactivation (greater than 99.9999%) of lethal Ames strain anthrax in less than 30 seconds supported by SEM micrographs showing ruptured membranes of biological material. Additionally, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) has illustrated that additional biomarkers are extracted with a plasma lysis pretreatment that facilitate the identification of biological materials. Using the experimental and modeling results that reveal a plasma mechanism, energy consumption will be optimized for deactivation. Decontamination of equipment exposed to biological agents is a serious concern. If decontamination cannot be performed, then personnel must maintain their protective posture to protect against the threat of the agents. The focus of this project is to model the plasma processes and optimize those parameters for the deactivation of biological compounds. The plasma blanket will decontaminate aircraft interior equipment (including large areas or items) safely and quickly. This decontamination will allow personnel to lower their protective posture and thus decrease their stress level. Decontamination of any known or suspect areas will ensure contamination does not spread.