A spray of disinfectants and antitoxins designed to cling to the body could be a way to help people after a bioterror attack.
Decontamination - the low-tech way
The decontamination unit could process hundreds of "casualties" in the aftermath of a chemical or biological attack.
The fine mist droplets sprayed on the skin are given an identical electrostatic charge, which helps ensure that the liquid forms a thin and even coating across the entire body.
This is because droplets with the same charge will repel each other, meaning that an even film will settle out across the surface onto which it is being sprayed.
Our apparatus was about 50 times better at decontaminating the volunteers than other methods using uncharged spray
Professor Edward Law, University of Georgia
The principle that opposite charges attract means that they will also stick to the skin.
The scientists behind the spray system say that the charge provides sufficient impetus for the liquid to spread into every crevice - including the armpits and groin.
The electrostatic technology has long been used in industry to ensure even coatings of paints and powders.
The device, which takes the form of a walk-through shower with several microprocessor-controlled spray-heads.
Each is electrically-wired so that the droplets of decontaminant solution are given the charge as they leave the nozzle.
At least 90 people an hour can be sprayed, and only 20 millilitres of liquid is wasted during each spraying.
The scientist leading the project said that his system was far more effective than conventional sprays.
Professor Edward Law, from the University of Georgia, who developed the device, said: "Our apparatus was about 50 times better at decontaminating the volunteers than other methods using uncharged spray.
"The booth is not restricted to hospital use, and provides relatively high human throughput for protective treatment."
The research will be presented at the Institute of Physics Congress at Heriot-Watt University this week.