Low-Cost Multichannel Fiber Optic Sensor System for Chemical Analytes in Water Monitoring

Multiuse Water Monitoring System with Applications Across a Variety of Fields

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a compact and rugged photoluminescence-based multichannel fiber optic biosensor.  These sensors allow for both continuous or point-wise monitoring of specified chemical concentrations in many unique applications. Previous methods of monitoring would typically need laboratory-based methods and cannot monitor continuously at various points in a system. The device developed here allows for real time, continuous, in situ measurements of chemical systems without the addition of reagents.


Real time, in situ measurements of chemical systems are difficult to collect and rely on photo or electrochemical transducers. The use of optical based sensors would allow for a long, low noise signal to transmit data without amplification. These characteristics are important for field measurements of chemicals and allows for the analysis of relevant species in real time at discrete points in a system.


The biosensor system developed here employs the use of a multiplexed measurement system, in which many optical sources and sensors can be activated individually, in subsets or run simultaneously. When measuring individually, the system transfers detection information along a fiber optic cable to the point of measurement, meaning measurements may be taken at different locations along the cable and that each location can send information along the fiber optic cable independently of the other locations. When measuring in subsets, the system can measure a subset of chemicals or analytes, while not measuring others. This would allow for continuous monitoring of certain analytes, and allow discrete measurement of others at distinct times, i.e. measuring one chemical continuously in a groundwater supply and another chemical only after a rain storm. In another example, various chemicals or analytes can be detected on a continuous basis, giving an accurate reading at separate locations in a system (i.e., upstream and downstream) while also allowing for continuous monitoring of the system as a whole.

Alternately, this device can also measure discrete points in time (i.e., on demand), allowing for chemicals or analytes to be measured accurately. Moreover, this device is small, rugged, and can perform measurement tasks in the field reliably.


  • Accurate, continuous measurement of chemicals or analytes
  • Point wise detection allows for systemic monitoring
  • Changes to system can be detected and monitored, including treatments or changes in operating parameters
  • Eliminates need for reagents
  • Low cost
  • Long lasting device that can withstand field use


  • Water monitoring
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Agriculture
  • Characterization of containment sites
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Monitoring of remediation processes
  • Food production and quality control
Last Updated: February 2022

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