NASA is planning a wide range of extra-terrestrial missions, often with the goal of detecting signs of life. NASA has the responsibility not to introduce bacteria or viruses from earth into pristine extraterrestrial bodies. In order to prevent contamination of both the sensors and the extraterrestrial bodies, all aspects of the spacecraft must be sterile. Existing systems can clean a spacecraft at any given moment in time, they cannot keep the spacecraft clean. Implementing these procedures for large and complex spacecraft will be time-consuming, and facilities-intensive, greatly adding to the overall mission cost. In addition to the NASA interplanetary market, there is also the NASA manned spaceflight market. Manned platforms require high internal humidity which leads to rampant bacterial and fungal growth on all surfaces and particularly on hidden surfaces that are hard to reach. Cleaning these surfaces is a reoccurring task that occupies much of the crew time. Failure to clean the surfaces leads to significant respiratory problems. A coating process that ensured that an entire spacecraft is sterile and more importantly remains sterile, would greatly reduce the overall mission cost and increase mission success for both unmanned and manned missions. The versatile process proposed by PSI would pay for itself many times over by reducing the cost of the spacecraft processing facilities, the integration times, and the need for frequent decontamination.
It can be said without hyperbole that the terrestrial market for a broad spectrum antimicrobial (anti-bacterial/fungal/viral) coating is simply enormous. The proposed technology is a permanently attached surface coating that kills bacteria, fungi and viruses on contact. There are applications in the medical, pharmaceutical, military, and first responder industries. In the medical community, the proposed technology could greatly reduce the incidence of operating theater contamination and the associated costs of treating post-operative infections. At low enough cost, various other aspects of hospital environments could be treated, again reducing infection rates and improving patient outcomes. Similarly, in the pharmaceutical processing industry, great expense is taken to prevent biological contamination during the drug manufacturing process. The proposed Phase I will demonstrate efficacy on aluminum, anodized aluminum, and stainless steel. These are also the basic material building blocks of virtually all drug-manufacturing equipment. Reducing the decontamination steps and product rejection rates will greatly increase the cost-effectiveness of many drug fabrication systems. Military applications range from defeating bio warfare agents to self-decontaminating medic gear. Equipment that decontaminated itself would help reduce the spread of a bioweapon and help military and civilian first responders deal with such threats.