Research on the biomedical applications of low-temperature plasmas, a field today known as "Plasma Medicine", started in the mid-1990s under a US AFOSR program seeking to use low-temperature atmospheric pressure plasma (LTP) to decontaminate both biotic (such as tissue, skin) and abiotic media and surfaces. The aim was to use plasma technology to sterilize/decontaminate tools and gear and to disinfect wounds for speedy healing. At the time only a few university-based US researchers (Dr. Laroussi was one of them) were involved in this endeavor. By the early 2000s, some of the preliminary scientific work was accomplished and most of the outstanding issues and challenges were identified. By the middle of the first decade of the 2000s many of the major research groups active in plasma medicine today entered the field and gave it a new impetus. A global research community formed and the field took off exponentially. Today, work on plasma-aided wound healing, blood coagulation, dentistry, and cancer treatment is going on in earnest at several laboratories worldwide.
Back in the year 2000, a few years before the field experienced its spectacular growth, the AFOSR program director, Dr. Robert Barker, who managed the few projects on the biomedical applications of LTP, wrote "A quiet yet dramatic revolution is invading the ultraconservative domain of western medicine. Virtual guerilla bands of visionary physicists and engineers are threatening to overturn conventional wisdom and challenge common practice in fields held hostage for centuries by chemists and biologists. We will examine the historical scientific roots of this insurgency, comment on its current manifestation, and speculate about its exciting future".
Here at ODU's Plasma Engineering & Medicine Institute (PEMI), the interactions of low-temperature plasmas with biological cells are investigated both at the fundamental and applied levels. Applications in dentistry, decontamination/sterilization, wound healing and the destruction of cancer cells are actively pursued. At PEMI, faculty members from the College of Engineering, College of Sciences, and College of Health Sciences are engaged in active collaborations to investigate various applications of low-temperature plasmas in biology and medicine.
The Plasma Engineering & Medicine Engineering Institute (PEMI) is a research facility focused on conducting fundamental investigations of low-temperature plasmas and their applications in biology, medicine, and bioengineering. PEMI will be a leading national and international research institute that will play an instrumental role in advancing cutting-edge biomedical applications of low-temperature plasmas.
To offer a state-of-the-art facility and a vibrant academic environment where faculty, graduate and undergraduate students engage together in advanced multidisciplinary research encompassing fundamental and applied research aspects in the fields non-equilibrium plasmas, and their applications in engineering, bioengineering, and medicine.