The Sensoring theme of Wetsus focuses on the development of devices for monitoring the quality (composition) of water, whether that is, surface water, drinking water or industrial waste water. The motivation to develop reliable water quality sensors is twofold. First, from the point of view of public health, safe drinking water is of utmost importance. Secondly, the quality of discharged Industrial waste water is more and more dictated by governmental regulation, implying the need to strictly control its quality.
The technology applied within this research theme ranges from microfluidics combined with Raman spectroscopy to (waveguide) laser optics and acoustics. Whatever the technique and whatever it is a sensor to detect pathogens or chemical toxins, the challenge always is to develop a system that operates on-line and continuously, sensitive, fast and cheap. The currently used method of culturing and plating out in order to test for the presence of pathogens may serve as an example. This analysis is laborious and takes a couple of days, requires skilled personnel and therefore is rather expensive. The alternative we work on is based on an on-line recording able not only to test for the presence of just a single bacteria cell in 10 ml of water but, in addition, also identifies the particular bacteria species we are dealing with.