Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Larry W. Burggraf, PhD


This research developed and applied microlithography techniques to etch microscope slide platforms in order to measure thermal inactivation of Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus anthracis spores, two closely related Bacillus species. B.t. is widely used as a surrogate for B.a. in response studies and in some field studies. This work addressed the previously identified problem of measuring both spore growth and spore thermal kill threshold using the traditional method of spreading a diluted spore solution on a plate. The micro-etched platforms forced spore separation thereby preventing neighbor growth from obscuring germination and initial vegetative growth measurements using a microscope. The technique permits observation of small samples of spores over time and yielded more accurate response measurements. This study includes comparison of thermal responses between B.a. and B.t. spores that were prepared and stored in exactly the same environment and conditions. Findings support the continued use of B.t. as a substitute for B.a. in this type of work and especially in studies for thermal inactivation for short times periods of a minute or less. The micro-etched slides can also be applied to laser inactivation of spores for exposure times as short as milliseconds.

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