Kompetenzkatalog Hessen
Plasma Medicine and Hygiene
Exploration; Preclinical Development; Enabling Technologies;
Prof. Dr. Markus Thoma

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
I. Physikalisches Institut
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 16
35392 Giessen

Room: 309

Phone: +49 (0)641 99 33110

E-Mail: Markus.H.Thoma@exp1.physik.uni-giessen.de
Key References

Plasma Medicine and Hygiene

A physical plasma is a gas consisting of ions (charged atoms) and electrons. It can be produced by high temperatures, as in the interior of the sun, electric fields or ionizing radiation. The plasma state is the most common state in the visible Universe, present in stars and interstellar and intergalactic matter. Plasmas are also employed in many technological applications such as surface treatment (etching, coating, activation, decontamination) and illumination (fluorescent tubes). Hot plasmas are also used for medical purposes, for example for sterilization of medical equipment and coagulation of blood vessels.      

Cold Atmospheric Plasmas (CAP) are ionized gases (e.g. air, argon) at ambient pressure which are produced by electric discharges. These plasmas can be used for an effective sterilization of surfaces including living tissues. For example, clinical studies have been performed recently showing a beneficial effect on the painless treatment of chronic wounds without any side effects [1]. This new application of plasmas is the topic of many world wilde interdisciplinary research activities, involving the fields of engineering, physics, chemistry, microbiology, and medicine.

The aim of the investigations at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in cooperation between the I. Physics Institute and the Institute for Medical Microbiology supported by the terraplasma GmbH (Garching) is a deeper understanding of the basic mechanisms of the sterilization process by CAP using plasma devices dedicated for biological experiments (see images below).

For this purpose, the type and concentration of reactive species such as ozone, produced by the plasma in air or liquids, are determined by the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) method. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced by the plasma are the main ingredient for killing bacteria, spores, viruses and fungi.

At the same time skin and mucosa cells are not damaged if the plasma concentration is not too high but, to the contrary, are often stimulated leading to an improved wound healing. Furthermore, the bactericidal impact on various strains of bacteria, including multiresistant ones, on various surfaces and liquids is investigated (see images above). Also the possibility of a resistance formation of bacteria against plasma treatment is studied.
The experiment facilities at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in the physics and medical departments offer unique options for fundamental and applied research and education in the young and very active field of plasma medicine and hygiene. Cooperation exists with terraplasma GmbH, the Department of Infectious Diseases, Virology at the University Hospital Heidelberg, and the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University Göttingen

[1] M. Laroussi, M.G. Kong, G. Morfill and W. Stolz, Plasma Medicine (Cambridge University Press, 2012)


  • Microbiological Experiments
  • Plasma Diagnostics
  • Chemical Analysis (Electron Spin Resonance)
  • Technolgy Development (Plasma Sources)