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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Research project: Development of anti-fouling strategies for long-term deployed in situ sensors in marine environments

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The aim of this PhD project is to find a sensible and effective strategy to prevent biofilm formation on sensors, especially in the marine environment. For the prediction of environmental development, the acquirement of data using in situ sensors is necessary, but is especially difficult in marine environments because of so called biofouling. This makes the long term deployment of sensors almost impossible.

Long-term monitoring of the environment is an essential part in understanding global processes such as global warming and its impact. The development of anti-fouling strategies for in situ sensors is critical for their functionality and requires a multidisciplinary approach.

Biofouling occurs even after only a short deployment in the marine environment. Its effects range from measurement drift, which can be compensated, to blockage of channels, which render the sensor inoperative. The longer the deployment period the more severe the effects of the biofouling become, in general.

For the development of anti-fouling strategies, first we need to understand the processes of fouling and identify targets for the research efforts. An understanding of the differences in the severity of the fouling in relation to the location of the sensors is also an important part on the development. Targets for antifouling research can be either the prevention of initial stages of biofouling or treatment and removal of biofilms.

The prevention of biofouling can be achieved by identifying materials less susceptibility towards biofouling and surface modification sensor materials. The research in this area has been concentrated on the eutrophic zones of the oceans neglecting the deep sea.

Funding: European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, SENSEnet.
Project acronym: SENSEnet; Project full title: International sensor development network.

 

 

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
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