The primary goal of the proposed SBIR program is the development of a large-area atmospheric pressure plasma jet (APPJ) for spacecraft surface sterilization for Planetary Protection. The Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 outlines potential planetary missions that require the need for developing advanced Contamination Control for Planetary Protection technology over the next decade, especially for Mars, Europa, and Enceladus missions. The EHT large-area APPJ would complement other contamination control technologies in NASA's toolkit. The EHT large-area APPJ would allow for the sterilization of materials that cannot be subjected to other sterilization technique and thereby allowing spacecraft designers to utilize a wider range of components and materials.
Surface sterilization is an important issue for the medical community. In hospitals the ability to sterilize a surface without chemicals or heat would potentially allow for faster, more robust cleaning of surfaces. The large-area nature of the EHT APPJ would allow large surfaces to be sterilized more quickly. Additionally, surface sterilization with large-area APPJ could play an important role in biomedical research laboratories to prevent contamination of instruments and surfaces while limiting the spread of infectious diseases. Another commercial application of the EHT large-area APPJ is surface treatments. APPJs are used for the treatment, cleaning, and modification of surfaces for a wide range of applications from nanoparticle production to improving material bonding.