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Project ID: WI361

Title: Microfabricated, Low Power, Inorganic Water Quality Sensor based on Direct Current Argon Plasma Emission Spectroscopy

Focus Categories: Methods, Water Quality

Keywords: Microanalysis, Inorganic Chemistry, DC Plasma, Sensors

Start Date: 09/01/2001

End Date: 08/31/2003

Federal Funds: $150,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $210,328

Congressional District: Wisconsin, 2nd

Principal Investigator:
Marc A Anderson
Professor, The University of Wisconsin-Madison

Yogesh B. Gianchandani
Assistant Professor, The University of Wisconsin-Madison


Analytical water quality assessment is an extremely costly process that requires labor-intensive collection, transportation, and laboratory analyses of samples. In addition, even in the most careful of procedures, sample contamination can compromise the analysis. Clean sampling procedures, clean rooms, and super clean reagents and instruments are often required to analyze trace-level contaminants. Also, research laboratories currently employ sophisticated instruments to measure dissolved concentrations of inorganic and organic contaminants in our natural water systems. The cost associated with the purchase and maintenance of these instruments is extremely large. The development of an inexpensive multiple detector system that can routinely measure water quality parameters accurately, reliably, in situ, in real time, and at minimum cost would be an invaluable contribution to the field of environmental chemistry.

The primary objective of this project is to initiate the development of a microfabricated, low power sensor that utilizes DC argon plasma emission spectroscopy to monitor the inorganic chemical quality of water. The major components include: a sample delivery system, a DC plasma source, an argon reservoir and delivery system, optics (lenses, slits, mirrors), a diffraction grating, and a detector. The device would also be self-powered. The proposed microfabricated DC argon plasma emission spectrometer would significantly reduce the costs associated with environmental sampling. The labor costs for collection, transportation, and analyses mentioned above would virtually be eliminated by the proposed technology. Additional collection costs such as ship time on large sampling vessels (at a cost of thousands of dollars per day) would also be eliminated. Since the sample analysis is conducted in-situ, the sample contamination effects described above would also be greatly reduced. A long-range goal of this project might be to engineer a functional microfabricated DC plasma spectrometer (made from either non-toxic or biodegradable components) that can be deployed in a manner that provides large-scale environmental monitoring directly from research laboratories that could be continents away. Finally, in addition to deployment in natural waters, the proposed system could be used in city water treatment plants or even in households to monitor the concentration of aqueous chemical species.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last Updated: Thursday June 24, 2004 3:18 PM
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