Miniature E-Jet Printed Multi-Sensors for Aquaculture Water Quality Monitoring and Management 

Lead Pi: Amy Mueller · 02/2020 - 01/2022

Project number: R/RD-45

Co-PI: Joseph Ayers, Northeastern University


Objectives: To develop a game-changing solution for online monitoring of water chemistry for aquaculture applications (automation of water quality management in closed containment systems and water quality monitoring in all systems) by creating highly miniaturized low-power multisensor arrays using Electrohydrodynamic Jet (E-Jet) printing. To demonstrate this as an extensible platform by (1) adapting existing sensor materials for use with E-Jet and (2) validating sensor functionality in controlled (filtered, lab-based) and open-water seawater tests on a timescale of 1-8 weeks.

Rationale: E-Jet can print in multiple metals/chemistries with programmable thermal management (clean sub-micron precision).  By using a variety of metallic and biologically-based inks it can support amperometric, potentiometric, voltammetric, and biohybrid additive manufacturing; literature-reported selective materials and architectures will be leveraged to design improved sensor components printable by E-jet.  Sequential printing and integration of conductive traces, electrode pads, and ion selective coatings will result in a variety of sensor selectivities and improved nutrient sensors for use in seawater. Low power E-Jet printed sensors (~mW with associated hardware) will be tested for detection limit, sensitivity, and selectivity and packaged for biofouling protection.

Methodology: Water quality is a critical issue in the decision to consume aquaculture products instead of wild stocks.  Online sensing is required for enabling healthy closed-containment mariculture, and this work therefore supports innovation in aquaculture generally by increasing available approaches for automated system management.  This effort has direct connection to the industry through ongoing major interdisciplinary coastal sustainability initiative with a focus on aquaculture, that has included partnerships with industrial and non-profit stakeholders spanning from practitioners up to the seafood market (EON Aqua LLC, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), Lynn Economics Development and Industrial Corporation, and Legal Sea Foods).