X-rays and UV Gang Up to Kill Anthrax

June 5, 2008
Engineers at Georgia Tech Research Institute have developed a faster, less-expensive method for decontaminating bioterrorist sites in the future.

They use a flat-panel display that generates X-rays (0.01 to 10-nm wavelengths) and UV-C light (280 to 100 nm in wavelength) to kill anthrax spores in 3 hr with no lingering effects.

The device can also kill spores tucked away in places like computer keyboards without damaging anything. The UV attacks surface spores while the X-rays penetrate through material to kill spores in cracks and crevices. The device is said to look like a coat rack with radiation modules facing outward and arranged on rings at various heights. The X-rays and UV radiation are lethal to humans, so the unit is turned on remotely.

Similar technology could be developed into panels that sterilize medical equipment, purify water, or decontaminate livestock when it is exposed to a virus or germ.

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Georgia Tech Research Institute, gtri.gatech.edu


GTRI researchers Brent Wagner and Hisham Menkara developed a UV-Cemitting phosphor for their decontamination device. When the phosphor is struck by an electron beam, it luminesces and emits UV-C light, which can destroy an organism’s DNA.

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