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STARDUST - Ultra-sensitive optical sensor system for detection of multiple pesticides in water

The aim of this project is to develop a unique optical system to monitor pesticides in water. Combined with passive sampling and Citizen Science we aim at understanding the impact of extreme hydroclimatic events on the occurrence and persistence of pesticides in water.

Contact person

Ill.: E. Vereshchagina/SINTEF

Hightened risk of pesticide contamination in water bodies

As hydro-climatic extremes intensify due to climate change, the repercussions on socio-economic, structural, and environmental sectors become increasingly severe. Among the challenges posed by these extremes is the heightened risk of pesticide contamination in water bodies during intense rainfall events, impacting biodiversity, ecosystem health, and the safety of drinking water sources. Unfortunately, current monitoring methods are insufficient to detect these rapid water quality fluctuations.

Develop optical system

Our goal is to develop an innovative, integrated optical system employing surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy combined with microfluidics, supported by advanced spectral data processing techniques. This system will enable multiplexed monitoring of pesticides in both surface and ground waters, shedding light on the interplay between extreme hydroclimatic events and pesticide occurrences.

Capture water samples that provide insights into climate-related water quality impacts

Moreover, we will exploit rainfall forecasts to strategically time passive sampling and citizen scientist-coordinated events. By aligning sampling efforts with precipitation events, we aim to capture water samples that provide crucial insights into climate-related water quality impacts. These efforts will enable the identification of target pesticide compounds to be addressed with the developed sensor and a database of detected pesticides will be compiled and shared publicly.

A diverse array of expertise

The collaborative efforts of the STARDUST consortium bring together a diverse array of expertise. From nanotechnology, photonics, and microfluidics to spectral data analysis and water analysis, our partners SINTEF MiNaLab, INCDFM and IMT (Romania), IChF (Poland), DCU (Ireland), and DTU (Denmark) — are committed to advancing knowledge and developing practical solutions to address the pressing challenges in water quality.

Real-time monitoring technologies

Together we strive for a future where real-time monitoring technologies safeguard our water resources and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on water quality and ecosystem health.

Key Factors

Project duration

2024 - 2027


The project is funded by the European Commission and The Norwegian Research Council in the frame of the collaborative international consortium STARDUST under the 2022 Joint call of the European Partnership 101060874 – Water4All

Cooperation partners

  • National Institute for Research and Development in Microtechnologies, Romania
  • National Institute of Materials Physics, Romania
  • Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science, Poland
  • Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

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