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Schoenbach and Bioelectrics Colleagues Commended for Research Article on Pulsed Power

Karl Schoenbach, an Old Dominion University physicist and electrical engineer who is a pioneer in the use of nanosecond-pulsed electrical power for biological applications, has received another commendation asserting his leading role internationally in the emerging field of bioelectrics.

Schoenbach (pictured), the Batten Endowed Chair in Bioelectric Engineering and the founder of ODU's Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, received word earlier this month that an article he wrote together with several colleagues about their pulsed power research has been causing quite a stir.

The journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology reported that the article, which it published in May 2008, has already been downloaded 500 times. This places it among the top 3 percent of all articles published last year by the Institute of Physics (IOP) of the United Kingdom.

Richard Heller, director of the Reidy Center, said interest in the article shows that the bioelectrics research community is very interested in the center's work. "This is a noteworthy achievement," he added.

Schoenbach is the first author of the article, "Electrical Breakdown of Water in Microgaps." Other authors from ODU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are Juergen Kolb and Shu Xiao, assistant professors; and Ravindra Joshi, University Professor. Also among the authors are two electrical engineering professors from Japan, Sunao Katsuki of Kumamoto University and Yasushi Minamitani of Yamagata University.

The article reports research results applicable to the construction of a new generation of compact pulse power generators for bioelectric applications. The researchers explain how a polar liquid allows the construction of compact power generators with faster rise time and higher repetition rate. The high repetition is important for bioelectric treatments where a large number of pulses need to be applied in a relatively short time.

Reidy Center researchers have made important discoveries in recent years involving the use of intense, ultrashort electric field effects to kill tumor and germ cells. Because the power is pulsed, sometimes with durations down into the single nanosecond range, it does not build up heat in the target cells or in healthy surrounding cells. Instead, the ultrashort pulses stimulate desired biological reactions such as orderly cell death.

In December, another IOP Publishing periodical, the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, reported that a research article written by the Reidy Center's Kolb, Joshi, Xiao and Schoenbach had been downloaded more than 250 times within a month after its publication. That article, "Streamers in Water and Other Dielectric Liquids," reviews research promoting improved designs for fast-closing switches for pulsed power systems.

This article was posted on: February 10, 2009

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