Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 3, pp. 349-358
Plasma sterilization. Methods and mechanisms
Abstract: Utilizing a plasma to achieve sterilization is a possible alternative to conventional sterilization means as far as sterilization of heat-sensitive materials and innocuity of sterilizing agents are concerned. A major issue of plasma sterilization is the respective roles of ultraviolet (UV) photons and reactive species such as atomic and molecular radicals. At reduced gas pressure (£10 torr) and in mixtures containing oxygen, the UV photons dominate the inactivation process, with a significant contribution of oxygen atoms as an erosion agent. Actually, as erosion of the spore progresses, the number of UV photons successfully interacting with the genetic material increases. The different physicochemical processes at play during plasma sterilization are identified and analyzed, based on the specific characteristics of the spore survival curves.