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Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society

Distinguished Lectures

Dr. Mounir Laroussi

Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Laser & Plasma Engineering Institute Old Dominion University


Interaction of Cold Plasmas with Biological Cells: Can Plasmas Play a Role in Modern Medicine?

In the last two decades, non-equilibrium, low temperature, atmospheric pressure plasmas have gained acceptance as an attractive technological solution in industrial applications such as the surface modification of polymers. This is because of the ability of non-equilibrium plasmas to achieve enhanced gas phase chemistry without the need for elevated gas temperatures. In these plasmas the chemistry is driven by the energetic electrons, while the heavy particles remain at low energy. This low temperature feature of non-equilibrium plasmas makes them a very attractive technology in applications requiring medium preservation and where surface chemistry is desired but without damage to the bulk of the material under treatment. Biomedical applications are amongst these.

Preliminary research is showing promising possibilities to use low temperature plasmas in medical applications such as wound healing, tissue engineering, surface modification of biocompatible materials, and the sterilization of reusable heat-sensitive medical instruments. However, before any of these exciting possibilities become reality, an in-depth understanding of the effects of plasma on the cellular and sub-cellular levels has to be achieved.

In this lecture, a review of the knowledge that has been gained during the last few years will be presented. First an overview of research efforts on the inactivation of bacterial cells will be presented. This includes the evaluation of the inactivation kinetics and the roles played by the various plasma agents (such as UV photons and free radicals) in the inactivation process. The second part of this lecture deals with plasma sub-lethal effects on both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Application to wound healing will be particularly highlighted.


photo of Professor Mounir Laroussi

Dr. Mounir Laroussi obtained his B.S. from the University of Technical Sciences of Tunisia, his M.S. from the School of Radio-electricity of Bordeaux, France, and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (June 1988), all in Electrical Engineering. After few years of teaching, he joined the Microwave & Plasma Laboratory of the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Tennessee as a Research Assistant Professor from 1995 to1998. In November 1998, Dr. Laroussi joined the Old Dominion University Applied Research Center as a Research Faculty member, where he established the Applied Plasma Technology Laboratory. He now holds a Professor position at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and is the director of the Laser And Plasma Engineering Institute.

Dr. Laroussi has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers and holds 4 patents in the field of Plasmas & Applications. He is an IEEE Fellow for his contributions to the biomedical applications of low temperature plasmas, a field known as “Plasma Medicine”. He is the recipient of the 1996 Advanced Technology Award from the Inventors Clubs of America, the recipient of the IEEE Millenium medal award, 2000, and the reciptient of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology Excelence in Research Award, 2005.

Professor Mounir Laroussi’s website

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