Flexible Sensor Technologies for In Situ Ocean Monitoring

PI: Azoulay, Jason (University of Southern Mississippi)
Co-PI(s): Shiller, Alan (University of Southern Mississippi), Ng, Tina (University of California, San Diego), Barnard, Andrew (Sea-Bird Scientific)
Start Year: 2019 | Duration: 3 years
Partners: University of Southern Mississippi, University of California, San Diego, Sea-Bird Scientific

Project Abstract:

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), The University of California San Diego (UCSD), and Sea-Bird Scientific propose a collaborative effort to develop soft-matter, compact, and robust sensor technologies critical to the issue of hypoxia and eutrophication in the MS Sound, with an emphasis on understanding occasional fish kills and the decline in oyster harvests. The proposed sensors will monitor temperature, salinity, O2, pH, and nutrient levels of ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3-), and phosphate (PO43-). Leveraging organic, hybrid, and additive manufacturing technologies, we will create novel, broadly applicable soft sensor platforms to: i) reduce the size, weight, cost and power consumption of in situ marine sensors and ii) enable compact, non-intrusive multifunctional sensor systems. Three research tasks: Task 1. Development of soft marine sensors (Azoulay, Ng, Shiller); Task 2. Sensor system integration (Ng, Barnard); and Task 3. In situ testing, optimization, and deployment (Shiller, Azoulay, Barnard) – will be applied in parallel to develop and demonstrate the technologies. Our team combines experts in polymer and materials science, soft-matter electronics, electrical engineering, systems integration, and marine science to address core issues in the development of miniaturized and low power sensors with flexible and conformal form factors for marine sensing. Strategies will be applied to increase TRL levels and promote adaptation in diverse marine applications, such as on the surfaces of hulls/buoys or unmanned underwater vehicles, and enable new paradigms for multi-modal ocean measurements. Furthermore, some of the sensors will be integrated on oyster shells to detect local stress conditions they are experiencing. These sorts of sensors can be envisioned to provide opportunities for in situ and real-time monitoring critical to understand complexities such as how changes in inputs (rivers, groundwater, offshore), and nutrient pollution affect water quality and lead to hypoxia and eutrophication in the MS Sound. These questions remain largely unresolved because researchers are limited in their abilities to evaluate multiple parameters and critical nutrients cost-effectively and in real time.

BAA: N00014-18-S-B007
BAA Topic: Topic 3B