A team of researchers have invented clothes made of paper that can protect you from dangerous bacteria. The invention is an inexpensive and effective way to sanitize surfaces. Aaron Mazzeo, an assistant professor at Rutgers University in the US said,”Paper is an ancient material, but it has unique attributes for new, high-tech applications.” Mazzeo said, “We found that by applying high voltage to stacked sheets of metallised paper, we were able to generate plasma, which is a combination of heat, ultraviolet radiation and ozone that kill microbes.” Researchers said, paper-based sanitisers may be suitable for clothing that sterilises itself, devices that sanitize laboratory equipment and smart bandages to heal wounds, among other uses. The invention consists of paper with thin layers of aluminium and hexagon/honeycomb patterns that serve as electrodes to produce the plasma, or ionised gas. The fibrous and porous nature of the paper allows gas to permeate it, fuelling the plasma and facilitating cooling. Jingjin Xie, lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said, “To our knowledge, we are the first to use paper as a base to generate plasma.” In experiments, the paper-based sanitisers killed more than 99 per cent of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a yeast species) and more than 99.9 per cent of E coli bacteria cells. Most E coli bacteria are harmless and are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some types of E coli can cause diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other illnesses, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Qiang Chen, doctoral candidate at Rutgers said, “Preliminary results showed that our sanitisers can kill spores from bacteria, which are hard to kill using conventional sterilisation methods.” Mazzeo said one of the goals of their ongoing research is to make sensors that resemble how human and animal skin provides protection from external microbes and bacteria, while detecting input (touch, force, temperature and moisture) from environmental surroundings.

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