Cold plasma can kill coronavirus on common surfaces in seconds

Advance by UCLA researchers could help curb spread of COVID-19
Cold plasma device
The cold atmospheric plasma device treating metal samples. The blueish glow is caused by the presence of excited air molecules.

UCLA engineers and scientists have demonstrated that treatments with near-room-temperature, cold atmospheric plasma can kill the coronavirus present on a variety of surfaces in as little as 30 seconds.

Their study, which was published in the journal Physics of Fluids, marks the first time cold plasma has been shown to effectively and quickly disinfect surfaces contaminated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The novel coronavirus can remain infectious for tens of hours on surfaces.

"This is a really exciting result, showing the potential of cold atmospheric plasma as a safe and effective way to fight transmission of the virus by killing it on a wide range of surfaces," said Richard Wirz, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and the leader of the study.

Plasma, not to be confused with blood plasma, is an electrically charged gas known as the fourth state of matter (solid, liquid and gas being the others), with electrons and charged ions accounting for its main makeup.

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