High-power ultrasound, currently used for cell disruption, particle size reduction, welding and vaporization, has been shown to be 99.99 percent effective in killing bacterial spores after only 30 seconds of non contact exposure in experiments conducted by researchers at Penn State and Ultran Labs, Boalsburg, Pa.
In the experiments, bacterial spores contained in a paper envelope, were placed slightly (3mm) above the active area of a specially equipped source of inaudible, high frequency (70 to 200 kHz) sound waves and hit for 30 seconds. There was no contact medium, such as water or gel, between the ultrasound source and the spores as is typically used in low power medical diagnostic ultrasound. The experiments mark the first time that Non Contact Ultrasound (NCU) has been shown to inactivate bacterial spores.
The researchers say the experiments demonstrate that NCU is a potentially safe, effective, non-radioactive way to decontaminate mail, including packages, since ultrasound waves potentially can penetrate cardboard and other wrappings just as they do layers of skin and tissue when used to image internal organs in the human body. They add that the technology could potentially sterilize medical and surgical equipment, food materials, the air duct systems of buildings, airplanes – even the space station.
Barbara Hale | EurekAlert!
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