A capacitively coupled low-pressure plasma (VHF-CCP) is developed for the sterilization of medical instruments and characterized by means of optical emission spectroscopy, multipole resonance probe and Langmuir probe diagnostics. Homogeneity of the
discharge is investigated with a CCD camera and space-resolved probe measurements. A homogeneous area for sterilization is defined. Sterilization tests confirm sterilization efficacy of the VHF-CCP. In order to unravel sterilization mechanisms, single
components of plasma as well as of bacteria are investigated. Therefore, an alternative UV+heat-setup is employed, enabling to re-enact UV radiation and heat of the plasma. Bio-macromolecules are selected to investigate the impact of plasma on single cell
components. Here, the focus is on proteins and DNA. From the results obtained, a desktop sterilizer for the sterilization of medical instruments is developed.