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Plasma medicine: an introductory review

New Journal of Physics
IOP Publishing
Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Physics


This introductory review on plasma health care is intended to provide the interested reader with a summary of the current status of this emerging field, its scope, and its broad interdisciplinary approach, ranging from plasma physics, chemistry and technology, to microbiology, biochemistry, biophysics, medicine and hygiene. Apart from the basic plasma processes and the restrictions and requirements set by international health standards, the review focuses on plasma interaction with prokaryotic cells (bacteria), eukaryotic cells (mammalian cells), cell membranes, DNA etc. In so doing, some of the unfamiliar terminology—an unavoidable by-product of interdisciplinary research—is covered and explained. Plasma health care may provide a fast and efficient new path for effective hospital (and other public buildings) hygiene— helping to prevent and contain diseases that are continuously gaining ground as resistance of pathogens to antibiotics grows. The delivery of medically active ‘substances’ at the molecular or ionic level is another exciting topic of research through effects on cell walls (permeabilization), cell excitation (paracrine action) and the introduction of reactive species into cell cytoplasm. Electric fields, charging of surfaces, current flows etc can also affect tissue in a controlled way. The field is young and hopes are high. It is fitting to cover the beginnings in New Journal of Physics, since it is the physics (and nonequilibrium chemistry) of room temperature atmospheric pressure plasmas that have made this development of plasma health care possible.

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