Plasma Based in-situ Method to Sanitize in Real Time Door Knobs, Handles, Medical Equipment, Push Buttons, and Other Surfaces

Web Published:

Plasma Based in-situ Method to Disinfect Surfaces in Real Time

Princeton Docket # 20-3698


Motivated by the current COVID-19 pandemic, Researchers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University have designed a novel plasma-based in-situ method for disinfecting surfaces in real time. The use of plasma to eradicate pathogens is a tested and effective technology in applications such as wound healing. The Princeton device is a new steady state approach to continuously disinfect surfaces that are often touched such as doorknobs, ATM keypads, elevator buttons,  escalators hand rails, subway turnstiles and Casino slot machines.


This technology uses piezoelectric direct discharge technology for the purpose of producing cold non­equilibrium plasma(s) directed toward the targeted surface. The non-liquid approach allows disinfection of sensitive electronics, and plasma provides an advantage over UV methods by disinfecting in an area-of-effect that ignores shadows caused by non-uniform surfaces. By placing these devices in-situ, keypads and buttons can be disinfected between users, without the cost of human labor.




•       Disinfect of large surfaces that are sensitive to liquids, chemicals

•       Disinfect of doorknobs, handles, escalator handrails

•       Disinfect of keypads, elevator buttons, ATM’s



•       Kills bacteria and viruses

•       Not subject to the “shadow” problem

•       No chemicals required

•       Operates continuously

•       No human labor cost


The U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a Collaborative National Center for plasma and fusion science. Its primary mission is to develop the scientific understanding and the key innovations which will lead to an attractive fusion energy source. Associated missions include conducting world-class research along the broad frontier of plasma science and providing the highest quality of scientific education. 



Kenneth Silber has been an IT professional at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton University for the past 38 years. During this time, he worked as a Senior Software Engineer / System Administrator / Web Developer in the PPPL Computer Department.  Ken, as a key member of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) team, is credited for the development of a real time electrical demand monitor which saved the project thousands of dollars during the operation of the TFTR fusion reactor. Ken is Co-Patent holder for the Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System (MINDS) advancing the development of state-of-art Artificial Intelligent algorithms used for resolving gamma ray spectroscopy associated with radiological threats within the US Homeland security arena.  He is a Graduate of Brandeis University where he studied computer sciences.  Outside of PPPL Ken did a 15-year stint as an Assistant Baseball Coach for Princeton University until joining the Chicago Cubs as a professional baseball scout, successfully scouting players for the Cubs organization (1998 – 2019).


Charles A. Gentile is Head of the Tritium Systems at PPPL. He and Dr. Yevgeny Raitses commissioned the first Plasma Based nano-Technology Laboratory at PPPL in 2011. His career spans more than 39 years in the field of nuclear research, fission power production, magnetic fusion research and inertial fusion research. He joined PPPL in 1984 and is a prolific inventor who holds a patent on MINDS, a nuclear detection device that can detect radioactive materials used in nuclear weapons or “dirty bombs.” Other patents include a decontamination system for nuclear materials and a system and method for resolving gamma-ray spectra. His honors include; two Thomas Alva Edison Patent Awards from the Research and Development Council of New Jersey; a National Excellence in Technology Transfer award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium; and a 2010 Columbus Foundation award for his work on the MINDS nuclear detection device.  In 2016 he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of fame.  A graduate of the University of Buffalo where he studied the effects of ionizing radiation on biological and non-biological systems.


Intellectual Property Status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.



Chris Wright

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-6762•

Laurie Bagley

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory  • (732) 991-7811 •


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Chris Wright
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Kenneth Silber
Charles Gentile