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Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society

Distinguished Lectures

Dr. Juergen Kolb

University of Rostock, Germany and the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, Greifswald, Germany


Bioelectrics: Pulsed Power for Medical and Environmental Applications

Pulsed power techniques are enabling technologies. Applications that are made possible by pulsed power are often highly advanced developments and concepts. Prominent examples include electromagnetic launchers and fusion reactors. The very same techniques can also be applied to manipulate living cells. While extended exposures to high electric fields generally only results in the heating of cells and, eventually cell death, the interaction with pulsed electric fields of nanosecond duration is more subtle. These pulses are generally much shorter than the charging time of the spherical capacitor that is the cell. Electric fields can therefore effectively interact with intracellular structures before the subcellular space is shielded from an applied electric field through the accumulation of ions at the cell membrane. Accordingly, biological responses to short pulses are more differentiated and diverse compared to longer exposures. Individual outcomes depend on the type and species of cells, tissues, or microorganisms that are exposed and on the characteristics and parameters of the applied electric field. Many different effects have been found in recent years and, as a result, novel biological and medical applications are now enabled by pulsed power: biofouling prevention by stunning of aquatic species, biofuel generation from algae, accelerated wound healing, and the treatment of tumors. As such, the field of bioelectrics offers exciting new and increasingly more opportunities for engineers willing to engage in this highly interdisciplinary and growing field.
The lecture that is offered will discuss both basics and applications of bioelectrics and
– Give an introduction into the possibilities of pulsed power technologies for medicine and biology, and describe the exciting opportunities;
– Describe systems and ways to manipulate living cells with pulsed electric fields, e.g. pulse generators, delivery systems, exposure protocols;
– Present currently developed applications and latest achievements, e.g. biofouling prevention, microbial inactivation, cardiac stimulation, wound healing, cancer treatment, electrode-less therapies.


photo of Dr. Juergen Kolb

Juergen F. Kolb received the Dr.rer.nat degree in physics from the University of Erlangen, Germany, in 1999. During the next 2 years he completed a teaching degree for mathematics and physics at secondary schools (Lehramt Gymnasium) before he joined the Physical Electronics Research Institute and later the Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. He became Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2011 before he accepted a joint appointment between the University of Rostock, Germany, and the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology Greifswald, Germany, as Professor for Bioelectrics. His current research interests focus on the effects of pulsed electric fields on living cells, non-thermal atmospheric-pressure air plasmas for biomedical and environmental applications, and the pulsed electric breakdown of liquid dielectrics.

Dr. Juergen Kolb’s website

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