Ponca City, We love you writes "In medicine, plasma, the fourth state of matter, is already used for sterilizing surgical instruments; plasma works at the atomic level and is able to reach all surfaces, even the interior of hollow needle ends. Now the BBC reports that researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have demonstrated a plasma device that can rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA, by creating cold atmospheric plasma that produces a cocktail of chemicals that kills bacteria but is harmless to skin. 'The plasma produces a series of over 200 chemical reactions that involve the oxygen and nitrogen in air plus water vapor — there is a whole concoction of chemical species that can be lethal to bacteria,' says Gregor Morfill. 'It's actually similar to what our own immune system does.' The team says that an exposure to the plasma of only about 12 seconds reduces the incidence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands by a factor of a million — a number that stands in sharp contrast to the several minutes hospital staff can take to wash using traditional soap and water. Morfill says that the approach can be used to kill the bacteria that lead to everything from gum disease to body odor and that the prototype is scalable to any size and can be produced in any shape."