Efficacy of atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharge for inactivating airborne pathogens

Romero-Mangado, Jaione; Dey, Avishek; Diaz-Cartagena, Diana C.; Solis-Marcano, Nadja E; Lopez-Nieves, Marjorie; Santiago-Garcia, Vilynette; Nordlund, Dennis; Krishnamurthy, Satheesh; Meyyappan, M.; Koehne, Jessica E. and Gandhiraman, Ram P. (2017). Efficacy of atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharge for inactivating airborne pathogens. Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films, 35(4) 041101.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1116/1.4990654


Atmospheric pressure plasmas have gained attention in recent years for several environmental applications. This technology could potentially be used to deactivate airborne microorganisms, surface-bound microorganisms, and biofilms. In this work, the authors explore the efficacy of the atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) to inactivate airborne Staphylococcus epidermidis and Aspergillus niger that are opportunistic pathogens associated with nosocomial infections. This technology uses air as the source of gas and does not require any process gas such as helium, argon, nitrogen, or hydrogen. The effect of DBD was studied on aerosolized S. epidermidis and aerosolized A. niger spores via scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The morphology observed on the SEM micrographs showed deformations in the cellular structure of both microor- ganisms. Cell structure damage upon interaction with the DBD suggests leakage of vital cellular materials, which is a key mechanism for microbial inactivation. The chemical structure of the cell surface of S. epidermidis was also analyzed by near edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectros- copy before and after DBD exposure. Results from surface analysis revealed that reactive oxygen species from the DBD discharge contributed to alterations on the chemistry of the cell membrane/ cell wall of S. epidermidis.

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