CE04 - Innovations scientifiques et technologiques pour accompagner la transition écologique

Lab-on-disc for in situ monitoring of surface water quality by algae biosensors and physicochemical sensors – BELUGA

Submission summary

The monitoring of aquatic ecosystems is a major environmental concern applying to large families of pollutants generated by human activities. The measurement of contaminants in surface waters is typically performed through traditional laboratory analysis by conventional techniques allowing the detection of a large panel of molecules. The representativeness and reliability of the final results largely depends upon the numerous precautions taken from the sampling site up to the laboratory. Packaging, preservation, storage and transport are stringent rules to respect in order to limit any evolution of the sample. This process is laborious and time consuming and does not allow for real-time results promoting a proactive response to water contamination.
In an endeavor to address these challenges, BELUGA proposes a Lab-on-a-Disc (LOD) portable device for real-time & multi-site analysis of surface waters, capable of simultaneously analyzing several pollutants, and requiring no other infrastructure than the device itself. The proposed portable tool will provide a low-cost, autonomous, self-operated, reliable and robust early warning detection system that will guide decision makers to complementary chemical analyzes exactly when necessary. The vision is to positively impact global health and economy through a widely accessible tool allowing for early detection of environmental hazards in surface waters.
BELUGA brings together the expertise needed to develop a micro-fluidic platform offering a “sample-to-answer” demonstrator in a multi-measure / multi-response LOD format. Water quality being defined according to its chemical, biological and physical characteristics, the LOD will integrate a network of different types of sensors and algal cell biosensors. Its architecture consists of a stack of disks, each integrating its own functions. The upper disk integrates light sources composed of organic materials (organic light-emitting diode - OLED) emitting on different spectral ranges (optical and photoinitiated electrochemical measurements). The next disc comprises the microfluidic network for handling samples and suspensions of algae. It also includes electrochemical (O2, pH, nitrates) and physical (conductivity) sensors. The two lower disks (d3 and d4) integrate optical filters and organic photodetectors (OPD) for fluorescence and medium absorption (turbidity) measurements. These optical transducers will allow the detection of direct (emitted by chlorophylls) and indirect fluorescence (through the transformation of a chromophoric substrate by an enzymatic activity). The conductimetric and electrochemical transducers will be adapted to the recording of charges generated by the activity of enzymes localized on the outer membranes of algae and dissolved oxygen stemming from photosynthesis.
Biosensors have independently shown their potential in the identification of xenobiotic substances in aquatic environments. Physico-chemical sensors deliver quantitative information on pH, turbidity and the presence of nitrates, while algae biosensors provide qualitative information. Indeed, the natural environment contains complex cocktails of molecules in interaction, producing effects that are never the sum of the effects of the molecules taken in isolation. The measurement proposed herein make it possible to direct the diagnosis of contamination towards one or more families of pollutants, but the precise quantification must always go through chemical analysis. This project thus targets the study of the overall “cocktail effect” of environmental pollutants, taking into account the possible synergistic or antagonistic interaction effects of these pollutants, as well as the degradation phenomena, which often generate by-products more toxic than the original molecules. As a result, the sensors developed & integrated into the LOD proposed in BELUGA will make it possible to estimate the net degree of health of given surface water ecosystems.

Project coordination

Jérôme Launay (Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes du CNRS)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CINaM Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique DR12 Centre Indisciplinaire de Nanoscience de Marseille
LAAS-CNRS Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes du CNRS

Help of the ANR 782,987 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 42 Months

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