Now researchers at Purdue University have created a system for using cold plasma to sterilize medical equipment in a safe, efficient, and practical way. The limitation to using it previously in a medical setting was that cold plasma is typically produced by RF voltage or pulsed DC, both of which create substantial interference with electronic medical equipment. Making the system work off of continuous direct current avoids this issue.

“We use high-voltage DC technology to create bursts of plasma to sterilize medical tools or devices,” said Alexey Shashurin, an assistant professor at Purdue and co-developer of the system. “This interesting and unique approach is much safer and more cost-effective than radio frequency voltage or pulsed DC power methods to generate cold plasmas.”

Since cold plasma is not hot, the technology is also applicable for use on medical tools made of materials that would otherwise melt when sterilized using heat.