Influence of spore size distribution, gas mixture, and process time on the removal rate of B. subtilis spores in low-pressure plasmas

Fiebrandt, M. and Roggendorf, J. and Moeller, R. and Awakowicz, P.

Volume: 52 Pages:
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6463/aafdcf
Published: 2019

The size reduction of B. subtilis spores due to removal of biological material in low-pressure plasmas was analyzed in a double inductively coupled plasma system. Argon, nitrogen, and oxygen at 5 Pa were used as feed gases to investigate the impact of different reactive species and high energy radiation on the process. The spore size was determined using scanning electron microscopy images and the length of thousands of spores were evaluated using an automated algorithm. By applying a statistical test the precision of the mean spore size determination was increased and the applicability of a normal distribution to describe the spore size distribution was demonstrated. The removal rate was found to vary depending on the process gas as well as on the process time and was found to be largest with a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen and lowest in pure argon. With increasing treatment time the removal rate decreases significantly and tends to stop in all gases and inhibits the complete removal of spores and potentially hazardous biological material. Possible explanations for this effect are the aggregation of non-volatile compounds or the formation of cross-linked layers which significantly reduce the etching efficiency. © 2019 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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