Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Centre for Biological Engineering

Inactivation of microorganisms and proteins using cold gas plasmas

Laser, petri dish

This subject has been studied through several projects with an overall aim to assess microorganism and protein inactivation using cold atmospheric plasma (CAP).

CAPs are known to generate a large number of reactive species, charged particles and radiation that can be tailored to affect the metabolism and integrity of microorganisms and their building blocks: biomolecules. Despite the rapid growth of the field, the mechanisms governing the interaction of CAP with microorganisms and biomolecules remain unclear. Researchers at the CBE have shown that CAP can inactivate microorganisms, and inactivate proteins and misfolded beta-sheet protein agglomerates. These results open the possibility of an effective means of destroying prions, misfolded proteins believed to be responsible for fatal diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), scrapie, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases (CJD).

Ongoing research includes a focus on unravelling possible inactivation. In addition, CAP inactivation of food borne microorganisms has been demonstrated with plant tissue models.

Funding bodies

Project dates / duration

2005 - 2010

Project team



Dr Felipe Iza: F.Iza@lboro.ac.uk, 01509 227077

Project outputs / results


"Effects of microbial loading and sporulation temperature on atmospheric plasma inactivation of Bacillus subtilis spores", X. T. Deng, J. Shi, G. Shama and M. G. Kong, Applied Physics Letters, vol. 87, 153901, 2005.

"Atmospheric plasma inactivation of biofilm-forming bacteria for food safety control", M. Vleugels, G. Shama, X. T. Deng, E. Greenacre, T. Brocklehurst and M. G. Kong, IEEE Trans on Plasma Science, vol. 33, no.2, pp.824 – 828, 2005.

"Physical mechanisms of inactivation of Bacillus subtilis spores using cold atmospheric plasmas", X. T. Deng, J. Shi and M. G. Kong, IEEE Trans. Plasma Science, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 1310 – 1316, August 2006.

"Modeling the inactivation kinetics of Bacillus subtilis spores by nonthermal plasmas", S. Perni, X. T. Deng, G. Shama and M. G. Kong IEEE Trans. Plasma Science, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 1297 – 1303, 2006.

"Effects of cell surface loading and phase of growth in cold atmospheric plasma inactivation of Escherichia coli K12", H. Yu, S. Perni, J. J. Shi, D. Z. Wang, M. G. Kong, and G. Shama, Journal of Applied Microbiology, vol. 101, issue 6, pp. 1323 – 1330, 2006.

"Protein destruction by atmospheric pressure glow discharges", X.T. Deng, J.J. Shi, H.L. Chen and M.G. Kong Appl. Phys. Lett., 90, pp 13903 (2007).

"Protein destruction by a helium atmospheric pressure glow discharge: Capability and mechanisms", X.T. Deng, J.J. Shi and M.G. Kong J. Appl. Phys., 101, pp 74701 (2007).

"Cold atmospheric plasma decontamination of the pericarps of fruit", S. Perni, D. W. Liu, G. Shama and M. G. Kong, Journal of Food Protection, vol. 71, no.2, pp. 302 – 308, February 2008.

"Cold atmospheric plasma disinfection of cut fruit surfaces contaminated with migrating microorganisms", S. Perni, G. Shama, and M. G. Kong, Journal of Food Protection, vol. 71. no. 8, pp. 1619 – 1625, August 2008.


"Plasma Medicine – Challenges and Opportunities", 36th IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science and 23rd Symposium on Fusion Engineering, San Diego, USA, June 5, 2009 (Plenary Talk), M G Kong, M Laroussi and A Fridman.

M G Kong, "Plasma Sterilization: from Bacteria to Biomolecules", 62nd Gaseous Electronics Conference, October 20 – 23, 2009, Saratoga Springs, Albany, NY, USA (Invited).

2009 Meeting of the Society for General Microbiology, Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK (2009) (Invited).

Bayliss D.L. Walsh J.L., Shama G., Iza F. and Kong M.G., "Cold gas plasma inactivation of bacteria and proteins".

The 2nd Intl. Conf. on Plasma medicine, San Antonio, Texas (2009) (Invited), Bayliss D.L., Walsh J.L., Iza F., Shama G. and Kong M.G., "Inactivation of misfolded beta-sheet protein using cold atmospheric plasmas".

M G Kong, "Cold atmospheric plasmas and their applications to hospital decontamination", 9th Asian and Pacific Conference on Plasma Science and Technology, China, October 9 – 12, 2008. (Plenary talk).

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