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Mounir Laroussi, Old Dominion University associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, appears on a History Channel television show this month to explain how his research with cold plasma could lead to futuristic devices and technologies like those seen on "Star Trek."

"The general theme of the show is about what advanced technologies are being developed today that could give humans capabilities approaching those imagined by 'Star Trek' or those that more advanced beings from other parts of the universe may have," he said.

"They interviewed me about the possible role cold plasma could play as an energy shield, like the one employed (by the U.S.S. Enterprise) in 'Star Trek,'" he added.
The History Channel show, which also includes interviews with scientists from FermiLab, Kirtland Air Force Base, MIT and SETI Institute, airs at 8 p.m. Feb. 13 and again at 5 p.m. Feb. 18.

During the past several years, national media have noted Laroussi's work with cold plasma, which is related to the super-heated "soup," called plasma. An abundance of this matter is found in solar flares, around lightning bolts and elsewhere in the universe. In the dense Earth's atmosphere, plasma is too hot to be put to practical use.

Laroussi, however, has developed cost-effective techniques for generating large volumes of cold plasmas, and his research explores ways to harness this highly charged amalgam of particles. He has said in previous interviews that a shroud of plasma, with its complex electromagnetic field, may be used someday to dissipate or deflect bursts of microwaves or particle beams fired from futuristic weapons.

Most recently, he has won acclaim-including a write-up in the February 2006 edition of National Geographic-for a 5-inch-long plasma pencil that shoots a jet of cold plasma adjustable from about one-half to 2 inches in length. One scientific publication dubbed the pencil a "light saber," which is title related to "Star Wars."
The plasma pencil offers practical application of another of cold plasma's promising qualities: the ability to kill bacteria without the high heat or caustic assault of conventional germ-killing processes.

This article was posted on: February 8, 2006

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