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June 24, 2020

How to quickly sterilize medical equipment for reuse

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many hospitals struggling with shortages of medical equipment. Now, George Washington University engineers might have a solution. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Michael Keidar has been exploring using cold plasma in cancer treatment. Now he’s joined forces with colleagues at one of the National Science Foundation’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers. The new team armed with an NSF RAPID grant hopes to develop a plasma brush to help medical providers quickly and easily sterilize masks and other equipment for reuse. Plasmas are a form of ionized gas containing a proportion of charged particles that are very effective in shutting down germs. Plasmas usually only exist at extremely high temperatures. Cold atmospheric plasma requires only the gas’s electrons to be at an elevated temperature, making it safe for use on and near humans. Unlike disinfectants, cold plasma doesn’t require a liquid agent, making it safe for damage-prone surfaces. While the plasma brush is still in its early stages, the team hopes to test the technology very soon. For more NSF COVID-19 information, visit us at

Credit: National Science Foundation

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