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One in 25 hospital patients in 2011 (the last year for which data was available) had to prolong their stay because they had developed hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

In an effort to reduce this number and create cleaner environments, a team of engineers and physicians in San Diego have created technology that could allow for better application of disinfectants. The device diffuses a range of potent disinfectants for airborne delivery, say Infection Control Today reports.

According to a study published in the August issue of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, the research team used the device to atomize disinfectants onto environmental surfaces contaminated with bacteria. Results indicated that the technique effectively eliminated 100 percent of bacteria - including highly multi-drug resistant strains of bacteria - that commonly cause hospital-acquired infections.

Researchers built the device using smartphone components that produce acoustic waves. The components were used to generate sound waves at extremely high frequencies to cause atomization — the creation of fluid capillary waves, which in turn emit droplets and generate mist.

Standard mechanical atomization doesn't work well with viscous fluids. It either requires too much power, expensive equipment or breaks down some of the fluids' active ingredients.

The smart phone components use a material that produces more energy efficient and reliable ultrasonic vibrations, so the device can atomize even the most viscous fluids into a fine mist that can drift in the air for more than an hour.

Researchers are working on an updated prototype to use in healthcare facilities. The device eventually could be used in airports, airplanes and in public transportation.

Click here to read the full report.