ANR Project  SURIMI (SUrface plasmon Resonance for In situ Metallic Ions detection)

Originating from either natural sources (such as hydrothermal, eruptive or weathering processes) or a range of anthropogenic activities, metallic elements flow in the Earth water and biota. This phenomenon is subject to investigations across a wide range of settings including the most remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic.

The strong interest in the assay of metal element is driven by various applications:

  • monitoring in the context of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC),
  • bio-geo-chemical studies for the investigation of the contribution of hydrothermal vent to the global ocean or
  • impact studies of the potential exploitation of the Seafloor Massive Sulphide by the mining industry.

In this context, metallic element assays have been developed and are routinely carried out. However, most of these analyses are currently performed in laboratories after collection, transportation and storage of the samples. While providing accurate data, this methodology suffers from poor temporal and spatial resolution. Thus, there is a crucial need for the development of robust and sensitive field sensors.

The aim of the SURIMI project is to develop multi-detection metallic element sensors capable of performing robust and sensitive analyses in settings ranging from a laboratory environment to the harshest conditions (e.g. deep ocean and/or polar seas). Two applications are concerned:

  1. Pollution monitoring of Cd, Hg, Pb and Ni: one laboratory and one on-field system will be developed and industrially valorized by the SME Klearia.
  2. Oceanographic studies on Ni, Cu, Zn, and Hg: one submarine system allowing for a rapid screening of these elements in the seawater will be developed and tested.

The instruments will be capable of assaying four different metallic elements at the same time at concentration as low as nM every 5 min.

To achieve these objectives, the consortium will be composed of seven partners:

  • two industrial and commercial public establishments (Ifremer and BRGM),
  • one SME (Klearia),
  • four academic laboratories including two international CNRS joint units (Laboratory of Analytical and Bioanalytical Sciences and Miniaturization at ESCPI Paris and Laboratoire Charles Fabry at Institut d’Optique Graduate School, Laboratoire Nanotechnologies et Nanosystèmes and Takuvik respectively).

The instruments will combine advanced robust and reliable technologies. They will consist in an Surface Plasmon Resonance Imaging (SPRI) transducer functionalized by new ion imprinted polymers (IIPs) specific to the target elements and integrate a microfluidic circuit.

  • SPRI system is capable of detecting several target molecules and determining their concentration at the same time. Its specificity and sensitivity depend on the functionalization layer, whose aim is to specifically concentrate the target molecules on the surface of the chip.
  • As molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), IIPs possess recognitions sites able to bind selectively a target. They are very stable to acids, bases and organic solvents and can withstand high temperature and high pressure, which makes them well adapted for harsh environment sensors. The instrument will integrate microfluidics for a high sensitivity and a low consumption of reagents. The circuit will be made in glass for a high chemical and thermal resists.

When all these technologies will have been optimized and combined, the sensor characteristic will be rigorously established in laboratory and mesocosm facilities using natural samples collected in freshwater, deep ocean and the Artic environment. Finally, the systems will be deployed during technological and opportunity scientific campaigns.
At the end of the project, the industrial valorization will be investigated by the SME Klearia, supported by the BRGM and Ifremer. A new product is expected to be commercialized at the end of the project.