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Engineering | Undergraduate Research

Optical Salinity Sensors

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Many geophysical flows are stratified. The presence of stratification allows waves (internal waves) to develop and propagate. Internal wave carry energy and when they break the mix fluid. In the ocean, internal wave breaking enhances the transport of heat and carbon dioxide across layers. This process is thus one of the key regulator of climate at millenial scale, even though it occurs at temporal scales of minutes to hours. When we study stratified flows in the lab, we use add sodium chloride to stratify the water column. NaCl is inexpensive and safe to handle and store. Most measurements involve measuring salinity in space and time and for this purpose we would like to develop sensors that are inexpensive, robust, and do not require frequent recalibration. A promising venue that we would like to explore in the lab is to use optic sensors which exploit the tendency of light to escape fiber optic under appropriate circumstances. This is an indirect measurement of salinity which has to potential to scale.

This is a hands-on project.  The candidate should have experience in designing and building relatively simple electronic circuits.

Send resume to Dr. A. Scotti (



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