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Design and Field Application of a UV-LED Based Optical Fiber Biofilm Sensor Drucken E-Mail

Detecting changes in the formation dynamics of biofilms stemming from bacteria and unicellular microorganisms

in their natural environment is of prime interest for biological, ecological as well as anti-fouling technology research.

We developed a robust optical fiber-based biofilm sensor ready to be applied in natural aquatic environments for on-line, in situ and

non-destructive monitoring of large-area biofilms. The device is based on the detection of the natural fluorescence of microorganisms

constituting the biofilm. Basically, the intrinsic fluorescence of the amino acid tryptophan is excited at a wavelength of λ = 280 nm and

detected at λ = 350 nm utilising a numerically optimized sensor head equipped with a UV-LED light source and optical fiber bundles for

efficient fluorescence light collection. Calibration was carried out with tryptophan solutions and two characteristic marine bacteria strains

revealing linear signal response, satisfactory background suppression, wide dynamic range, and an experimental detection limit of 4 ×103

cells/cm2. Successful field experiments in the Baltic Sea accomplished over a period of twenty-one days provided for the first time continuous

observation of biofilm formation dynamics in a natural habitat. Starting from the first adhering bacteria, the measurement yielded the characteristic

three phases of biofilm formation up to a fully developed biofilm. The sensor system holds potential for applications in aquatic sciences including

deep sea research and, after further miniaturisation, in the industrial and biomedical field.

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Detecting changes in the formation dynamics of biofilms stemming from bacteria and unicellular microorganisms in their natural environment is of prime interest for biological, ecological as well as anti-fouling technology research. We developed a robust optical fiber-based biofilm sensor ready to be applied in natural aquatic environments for on-line, in situ and non-destructive monitoring of large-area biofilms. The device is based on the detection of the natural fluorescence of microorganisms constituting the biofilm. Basically, the intrinsic fluorescence of the amino acid tryptophan is excited at a wavelength of l = 280 nm and detected at l = 350 nm utilising a numerically optimized sensor head equipped with a UV-LED light source and optical fiber bundles for efficient fluorescence light collection. Calibration was carried out with tryptophan solutions and two characteristic marine bacteria strains revealing linear signal response, satisfactory background suppression, wide dynamic range, and an experimental detection limit of 4 ´ 103 cells/cm2. Successful field experiments in the Baltic Sea accomplished over a period of twenty-one days provided for the first time continuous observation of biofilm formation dynamics in a natural habitat. Starting from the first adhering bacteria, the measurement yielded the characteristic three phases of biofilm formation up to a fully developed biofilm. The sensor system holds potential for applications in aquatic sciences including deep sea research and, after further miniaturisation, in the industrial and biomedical field.

 
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