New metrological approaches for monitoring the status of aquatic habitats and its changes


Ferraro Pietro Ferraro

Pietro Ferraro

Istituto di Scienze Applicate e Sistemi Intelligenti, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISASI-CNR)

Bianco Vittorio Bianco

Vittorio Bianco

Istituto di Scienze Applicate e Sistemi Intelligenti, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISASI-CNR)

Federici Stefania Federici

Stefania Federici

Università degli Studi di Brescia, Italy

Palatinus Andreja Palatinus

Andreja Palatinus

Department of Catalysis and Chemical Reaction Engineering, National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia

Pinna Maurizio Pinna

Maurizio Pinna

Università del Salento, Italy


Continuous monitoring of the health status of marine habitats is rapidly emerging, mostly pushed by the clear evidences of anthropic impacts in the form of water pollution and climate change. Algal bloom phenomena and the progressive alteration of phytoplankton composition at the basis of the food web are effects ascribable to variations in climate patterns. The widespread pollution due to microplastics, heavy metals, and other emerging contaminants raises major concerns and require unprecedented research and development efforts. Nanoplastics pollution represents a yet unexplored research field, in which new sampling and analytical techniques are being developed. The wide heterogeneity of plastic items characteristics that vary in terms of shapes, sizes, colour, and composition, some of these properties changing over time due to plastic aging in water, raises a question on the “microplastic” definition itself. Methods to realistically simulate microplastics are the basis for developing reliable identification methodologies. There is a consolidated attention in establishing metrology methods to identify the presence of pollutants in automatic way. Good examples in this sense are emerging protocols for water sampling and treatment, high-throughput optical methods and instruments for microparticles imaging, detection and counting, software architectures for data analysis and AI-aided classification, the definition of new biomarkers of stress-induced variations.

The upcoming session is aimed at gathering insights from diverse fields to devise innovative strategies for mapping the status, distribution, and fluxes of pollutants in aquatic environments, while also enhancing their characterization.

We invite contributions from experts across various disciplines, fostering a collaborative effort to address the complex challenges in this crucial domain. Specifically, we seek approaches rooted in:

  • Optics and Inspection Systems: Cutting-edge optical techniques and inspection systems for precise mapping and monitoring of pollutants in aquatic ecosystems.
  • Advanced Data Analysis Methods: State-of-the-art methodologies for comprehensive analysis of large datasets related to pollutant dynamics, focusing on accuracy and robustness.
  • Microscopy Techniques for Taxonomic Characterization: Advanced microscopy methodologies to facilitate precise taxonomic characterization of pollutants, thereby deepening our understanding of their ecological impacts.
  • Innovative Material Science Solutions: Development of sustainable and effective solutions and technologies within the field of material science, particularly aimed at mitigating the pervasive issue of microplastic pollution.

We eagerly anticipate your contributions, which will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of research and technological advancements in environmental science. Together, let us strive towards a cleaner and more sustainable aquatic environment.


The methods include but are not limited to the following:

  • Microscopy (e.g. optical, fluorescence, SEM, confocal, DIC, Phase contrast, etc.);
  • Imaging flow cytometry;
  • 3D Refractive Index Tomography;
  • High-throughput line scanning imaging;
  • Imaging methods based on coherent light (digital holography, interferometry);
  • Spectroscopy techniques: FT-IR, Micro-FTIR, Nano-FTIR, AFM-IR, NIR spectroscopy;
  • Raman based techniques: confocal Raman microscopy, Raman Tweezers, Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy;
  • NMR;
  • Optical tweezers and optofluidics;
  • Thermal analyses: DSC, TGA, Pyrolyser and hyphenated techniques;
  • Remote sensing (including, e.g. SAR, Pol-SAR, Differential SAR).

The fields of application include but are not limited to:

  • Detection and characterization of micro and nanoplastics;
  • Environmental relevance of test materials for micro and nanoplastics detection and quantification in complex matrices;
  • Biomarkers for water pollution monitoring;
  • Microplankton distribution in the water column;
  • Characterization of microorganisms (diatoms, microplankton);
  • Taxonomy;
  • Detection of absorbed pollutants (PFAS/PFOA, antibiotics, …);
  • Innovative solutions to mitigate microplastic pollutions;
  • Recovery and recycling of marine plastics;
  • Technologies to improve degradation of micro and nano-plastics;
  • Realistic test materials for micro and nanoplastics.

Furthermore, among others will be considered:

  • Water sampling systems and protocols;
  • Data analysis methods;
  • Artificial Intelligence;
  • Multisensors assays;
  • Multiscale analysis;
  • Data inversion;
  • Nanotechnology and Nanospectroscopies.


Pietro Ferraro, is Research Director at Institute of Applied Science and Intelligent Systems, National Council of Research (CNR-ISASI), Pozzuoli, Italy. He is now pursuing his interests in 3D imaging for applications in non destructive testing in aerospace, biomedical field, fiber sensors, nanofluidics, and optofluidics, and application of optical methods for detection of microplastics.. He has published about 300 papers in peer-review journals and has been an invited speaker in several international conferences. He is a co-editor of two books: Micro-/ Nanoengineering and Characterization of Ferroelectric Crystals for Photonic Applications (New York, NY, USA: Springer-Verlag, 2008) and Coherent Light Microscopy(New York, NY, USA: Springer-Verlag, 2011). Dr. Ferraro is a Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and the Optical Society of America (OSA). He is the Topical Editor of Biomedical Optics Express, member of the Editorial Board of the Optics and Lasers in Engineering Journal, Editor of Nature Light & Science Applications journal, has been member of the Editorial Board of the Measurement & Science Technology Journal for 12 years. He received the SPIE Dannis Gabor Awared in 2020. He has been member of the Scientific Board of Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana).

Vittorio Bianco, received the M.S. degree (cum laude) in telecommunications engineering from the University “Federico II” of Naples, Naples, Italy, and the Ph.D. degree in materials and structures engineering, in 2016. He won the IEEE Best Doctoral Thesis in Optoelectronics 2016 Award. In 2011, he worked with the German Aerospace Centre, Munich, Germany, in the fields of SAR interferometry and tomography. In 2017, he was a Postdoctoral researcher with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, working in the field of lensless inline digital holography. Since 2012, he has been with the Italian National Research Council (CNR), working in the fields of digital holography, optics and image processing, computational microscopy, optical systems engineering, microfluidics, holographic flow cytometry, phase-contrast tomography for diagnostics and environmental monitoring. He is currently Senior Staff Researcher at the CNR Institute of Applied Sciences and Intelligent Systems. He has co-authored more than 220 works in his fields of expertise.

Stefania Federici, received her PhD in Technologies and Energetic Systems for Mechanical Industry (University of Brescia) in 2012 and her M.Sc. degree (cum laude) in Physics from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in 2008. She is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Brescia. Her research activity is focused on the realization of more realistic test materials for micro and nanoplastics environmental pollution. She is also interested in the study of the interaction between nanoplastics and biological systems. She is responsible for the “Chem-Bio-Nano Interfaces” division at the Chemistry for Technologies Laboratory at the University of Brescia. She is Action Chair of the COST Action “Plastics monitoRIng detectiOn RemedIaTion recovery – PRIORITY”, which connects about 400 researchers working on micro and nanoplastics issues. She participates in several national and international projects dealing with micro and nanoplastics.

Andreja Palatinus, an ecologist (BSc, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Nova Gorica, 2008) with additional qualifications in business law (Management and Law College Ljubljana, 2021), has a career marked by roles at the Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovenian Water Agency, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia. Since 2023, she has been associated with the National Institute of Chemistry, focusing on environmental research. Alongside her professional commitments, Palatinus is an entrepreneur working to develop a micro and nanoplastics research community in Slovenia and Croatia. Her involvement extends over a decade in marine litter research in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea and includes collaboration and organization of several marine litter and microplastics research sailing expeditions and organizing events for stakeholders in research, legislation, and business sectors related to micro and nanoplastics pollution. Palatinus has been coordinating the International Coastal Cleanup event, Čista obala, in Slovenia since 2009.