Colloids are the most abundant particles in the ocean and other aquatic environments, and play a crucial role in the structure and functioning of these ecosystems. The PI's request funding to design and fabricate a new instrument, an Aquatic Colloidal Analyzer (ACAN), for quantitative determinations of concentration and size distribution of heterogeneous colloidal assemblages (including nanoparticles) present in aqueous suspensions. No instrumentation is presently available which provides accurate information about size distribution of polydisperse systems of aquatic colloids over a broad size range from about 10 nm to 1 Âµm. The ACAN will utilize a Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) method, which is based on physical principles of Brownian motion and light scattering by colloids.
The ACAN measurements on unperturbed samples will provide a capability for acquiring an unprecedented wealth of scientifically new and valuable information on polydisperse assemblages of naturally occurring aquatic colloids, which cannot be obtained using present techniques. The data from these measurements will be fundamental in extending the understanding of the biogeochemistry of the ocean, the carbon cycle, satellite remote sensing of the oceans for biogeochemical and climate studies, the roles of microbes in ocean ecosystems, and atmospheric colloidal particles and their deposition into the ocean (via rainwater analysis).
The proposed instrument has the potential to impact a broad range of environmental studies related to particle dynamics, such as biology, chemistry, optics, physics and climate science. These measurement are critical for many fields in the aquatic sciences The project would interface with the education and outreach projects with the UCSD Preuss School and the Scripps Birch Aquarium designed for K-12 students, college students, and general public.