The mechanisms of sterilization and decontamination of surfaces are compared in direct and post\r discharge plasma treatments in two low-pressure reactors, microwave and inductively coupled plasma.\r It is shown that the removal of various biomolecules, such as proteins, pyrogens or peptides, can be\r obtained at high rates and low temperatures in the inductively coupled plasma (ICP) by using Ar/O 2\r mixtures. Similar efficiency is obtained for bacterial spores. Analysis of the discharge conditions\r illustrates the role of ion bombardment associated with O radicals, leading to a fast etching of\r organic matter. By contrast, the conditions obtained in the post discharge lead to much lower\r etching rates but also to a chemical modification of pyrogens, leading to their de-activation. The\r advantages of the two processes are discussed for the application to the practical case of\r decontamination of medical devices and reduction of hospital infections, illustrating the advantages\r and drawbacks of the two approaches.
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