Finding natural resources in the deep sea with the laser

Localizing mineral resources on the sea floor has so far been associated with very high costs. In the EU project ROBUST, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), together with eight other partners, developed a laser-based analysis system to examine soil samples in the deep sea almost non-destructively. The system has passed initial practical tests.

The system for laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) makes it possible to examine material samples for their atomic composition almost non-destructively. The LIBS system developed by the LZH successfully withstood a pressure of 400 bar in practical tests in the deep sea. Lasers, controls and software worked perfectly. The experiments were carried out during a research trip in the Pacific on the research ship SONNE of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. On the ROV Kiel 6000 diving robot from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, the LIBS system dived to the bottom of the sea.

The project "Robotic Subsea Exploration Technologies - ROBUST" (grant number: 690416) is funded by the European Union within the scope of the program "Horizon 2020".

Dr.-Ing. Benjamin Emde
Head of Underwater Technology Group
Materials and Processes Department
Phone: +49 511 2788-336