Environmental Monitoring

Water Pollution Monitoring

Phosphorus and nitrogen (in the form of phosphates, nitrates and nitrites) are the main cause of freshwater contamination affecting the quality of our drinking water and impacting water sports, angling, wildlife conservation and tourism as well as our health. Although nitrogen contamination can be monitored in-situ, real-time, remote monitoring to identify and manage incidents and the potential source of total phosphate contamination (one of the major causes of pollution) is currently not possible, requiring spot samples to be transported and analysed in a laboratory.

Oxford HighQ is developing a stand-alone nutrient sensor based on our expertise in chemical sensing and utilising our Optical Microcavity Analyser (OMCA) technology, which will allow the remote measurement of nitrates and total phosphate to well below the current legal requirements at a cost point competitive with existing water monitoring equipment.

The extremely small size of optical microcavities coupled with microfluidics makes our sensors small and compact, requiring up to 1000x less reagent and sample volume and reducing power consumption, allowing a device capable of remote, in-situ measurements with reduced cost of ownership.

Prototypes are under development and product launch is planned during 2021.

Related publications


OMCA number distribution of polarizability (nm3) of PMMA (196nm) and polystyrene nanoparticles (187nm) in water.

Find out more about our technology

Optical microcavity technology

Optical microcavities are micrometre-sized devices which confine light to a volume of space comparable with the optical wavelength.

Nanoparticle Characterisation

When a nanoparticle enters a microcavity it interacts with the light present by introducing a local change to the refractive index relative to the surrounding fluid.

Chemical Sensing

Our sensors are based on optical microresonators, which can amplify signals in any of the wide variety of optical methods commonly used in chemical sensing.


Oxford HighQ's world-class technologies are relevant to a wide range of industries.


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