Nirmal Thomas, Irene Jia, Grace Duan, Linxi Cao

Project Brief

MicroSentry was the product of sheer perseverance, vision and collaborative effort. It was developed as part of my final-year group project with a focus on environmental conservation. The team conducted research on microplastics and compared existing methods of detection, as well as spoke with experts to understand the need and potential for innovation in this field. Through the research, we discovered a promising scientific approach that had only previously been tested in lab environments, but we used our design and engineering skills to transform it into a practical solution for detecting microplastics.


Microplastics (MPs) are a major concern for marine life, ecosystem pollution, and human health. However, it is difficult to accurately measure and study MPs due to the time and resources required for collection and laboratory analysis.

Currently, MP monitoring is done infrequently over large areas, resulting in limited data in the literature. To address this issue, field-deployable in-situ detection and analysis technologies are needed to accurately characterise MP pollution in aquatic environments.

Governments and scientific communities are calling for the development of these technologies, and numerous papers have been published discussing potential field-portable techniques.


MicroSentry is a low-cost field deployable in-situ sensor for microplastic (MP) detection. It is designed to attach to existing infrastructures like data buoys, research vessels, piers, etc,. The sensor is designed to be used for continuous data collection in water bodies, to provide real-time representative data that are relevant to scientific research, or contamination monitoring for water companies. It is also designed with signal and data transmission to be incorporated into a data visualisation platform where scientific data can be translated into readable data which can be accessed by the public. MicroSentry contains two parts which include the sensor device itself and its data product.

The combination would effectively address the needs of scientific research as well as help private companies (such as water companies and wastewater treatment facilities) in shaping and enforcing policies issued by governing agencies. Furthermore, making our data accessible and readable to the public will also aid in raising public awareness which could support and mitigate environmental agendas.












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