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Water Res. 2007 Jun;41(11):2467-72. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Visualisation of transient processes in biofilms by optical coherence tomography.

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Institute of Hydrochemistry, Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Marchioninistrasse 17, D-81377 Munich, Germany.


Biofilms occur in natural and engineered water systems. In technical processes, biofouling lowers the water quality and increases the frictional resistance in tubes. In wastewater treatment plants, biofilms are used for the removal of organic and inorganic pollutants. For improvement of antifouling strategies and for process optimisation in wastewater treatment plants, analytical techniques for online monitoring of biofilms are needed. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive optical tomography technique, which is increasingly applied in medical diagnostics. It reveals photon-reflecting structures in tissue with lateral and axial resolution in the range of 10 microm. In this paper, we demonstrate the capabilities of OCT for the monitoring of biofilm structures and their detachment. OCT is able to reveal spatially resolved structural information on biofilm without staining. A main focus of this work is set on the ability of OCT to monitor transient processes with temporal resolution in a second to minute scale. These key features of OCT allow online monitoring of biofilm growth and detachment in a flow channel. Three-dimensional (3D) imaging quality, spatial resolution, and temporally resolved profiling of biofilms are demonstrated. The results give rise to the hope that OCT may evolve to a standard tool for monitoring of biofilm density.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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