In physics and engineering the word plasma refers to the fourth state of matter (preceded by solid, liquid and gaseous states). This state is reached when enough energy is delivered to a gas and a significant part of its molecules are ionized. Most of the matter in the universe is in this state and examples of it are the stars, the sun, the northern lights or the lightning bolts. In general, plasmas are usually very hot, in fact they are used in industrial applications to cut metals because they can reach temperatures above 2000 degrees. In addition, plasmas have a common characteristic: light emission. This ability to emit light alowed them to be used in many industrial applications such as neon lights or plasma screens.
In recent years, there has been a growing worldwide interest in the generation of cold atmospheric plasmas, understanding as cold those that, being out of the thermodynamic equilibrium, do not transfer heat and they are, therefore, compatible with living tissues and organic materials with low melting point.
In the last two decades these plasmas have generated great expectation due to the important breakthrough that they will produce in diverse scientific and technological areas. Investigations based on cold atmospheric plasma are undergoing an unprecedented growth due to the increasing number of applications in several industrial fields . The global effort in R&D is reflected in multiple scientific publications.
Two of the sectors where these plasmas have generated more expectation are health and food technology. This interest arises from the fact that cold plasmas, by their nature, have the ability to annihilate fungi and bacteria, induce the death of tumor cells and promote wound healing. Several studies indicate that plasma treatment may even inactivate different types of viruses.
In the treatment of wounds, its main mechanism of action is the effect of the electric fields produced by the charged particles that make up the plasma. These fields are imperceptible by the patient; however, the effect on the microcirculation in the application area of the wound is very noticeable.
Air plasma torch developed at ION BIOTEC