2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase


A Cold-Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Array Effectively Kills Bacteria on Industrial Surfaces

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Ken Cornell, Ph.D.


The vast majority of the planet’s bacteria exist in biofilms adhered to surfaces. While most are harmless, these biofilms can grow within food processing plants causing food spoilage and product recalls, both of which cost millions of dollars in lost revenue. Such contaminants also have the potential to lead to consumer sickness and even death. Here we demonstrate that we can eradicate various bacteria from relevant industrial surfaces (steel or glass) by treating with a cold-atmospheric pressure plasma (CAP) array device. The CAP array emits both UV radiation and reactive oxygen species, which are harmful to bacteria. The effects of CAP treatment are measured using colony forming unit reduction assays on agar plates. Typically, treatment with the CAP devices reduced biofilm and planktonic cell numbers by 99.9% or greater after 60 or more seconds of exposure time. Hydration of the feed gas in the CAP array caused a two-fold reduction in the CFU counts compared to the dry gas. This work demonstrates the feasibility of developing large CAP devices to treat food processing surfaces to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and decrease the need for harsh chemical cleaning and sanitization protocols.

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