A revolution in fuzz free sampling
Most useful inventions come to life when an inventor finds a technical solution to a problem. At least that is how the passive sampler "The Patch” came into existence.
"The Patch" is a design registered passive sampler, developed by researchers at NIVA. It has a very simple construction, is tiny and can be attached almost anywhere.
Sampling equipment is often quite bulky, and must be moored fast or installed permanently in some other way. This can provide a head ache for scientists. Christopher Harman is a researcher at NIVA, and one of the inventors of "The Patch."
- A large and bulky sampler has many limitations. Let's say we need to take samples from inside a water pipe. The water brings with it a certain amount of material, such as twigs, and bulky equipment is either too large to be placed there at all, or it may block the pipe. That’s not good for the pipe or the quality of the sample, he explains.
Simple, yet sophisticated
"The Patch" is the size of a smart phone, but much thinner than even Apple's latest creation. It has several layers and consists of a magnetic base plate, followed by absorbents and membranes, with a frame that keeps everything in place.
The material used in its construction is very flexible, which allows it to be mounted flush with surfaces that are not flat. Like on the inside of a water pipe. "The Patch" can be attached almost anywhere, as the fastening method is adapted to the surface. It may for example be attached magnetically directly on metal or like a sticker on non-magnetic surfaces.
Curiosity is not reserved for scientists. When sampling equipment is deployed in both nature and in more urban environments, it attracts attention. Not everyone manages to resist the temptation of tampering with the sensitive equipment.
- Too often we experience vandalism. It can have serious consequences for a research project, because the equipment is expensive and the continuity of sampling is disturbed. The Patch is easy to hide from passersby, because it is so thin and small. It can also be attached just about anywhere, and is so affordable that there is no crisis if it disappears, Harman says.
"The Patch" was the result of collaboration between researchers and NIVA’s innovation team. The rights of both NIVA and the researchers are safeguarded. The invention is design registered in Norway, the EU and USA. Before it goes on sale in 2013 the materials used in the construction are undergoing a process of perfection.
- As for exactly what materials are involved, we need to keep that a little secret. The goal is that the sampler will be extremely flexible and have secure fastening mechanisms. We are very close to finding the right combination of materials and reach our goal, Harman concludes.