Sequoia Scientific

Optical Sediment Trap

October 2, 2023

A consortium consisting of Sequoia Scientific, Inc. and University of Maine has successfully concluded work on an NSF STTR Phase I grant. The grant was awarded to the consortium in 2022 for the development of a novel bio-optical sensor for measuring sinking particle flux in the ocean. This measurement is critical for quantifying different mechanisms of the ocean’s biological carbon pump (BCP) and to understand the future ocean’s response to climate change. Currently, no sensors are well-suited for direct detection of the oceanic sinking particle flux.  

The NSF STTR Phase I grant enabled the consortium to develop a prototype design of a novel instrument called an Optical Sediment Trap (OST), capable of detecting the oceanic sinking particle flux. Based on the successful outcome of the NSF STTR Phase I grant, Sequoia Scientific, Inc. has decided to invest in commercializing the OST under the name LISST-OST and bring it to the market in early 2024 in collaboration with University of Maine. Apart from collaborating on the final instrument design, prototyping and test, the cooperation also includes a joint patent application between the two organizations. 

The LISST-OST will be designed for easy integration on existing robotic profiling floats that are routinely deployed in our oceans: Currently, a network of around 4,000 floats is deployed and maintained globally, operating in all seasons and weather conditions, while measuring many parameters crucial for our understanding of the oceans ( The NSF is investing $53 million through 2026 to build out the biogeochemical sensing capabilities of this robotic float fleet and a substantial international co-investment is anticipated ( It is anticipated that the LISST-OST will be integrated on many of these new floats, immediately providing data to scientists around the world working on better understanding the BCP and our ocean’s response to climate change. 

The consortium Principal Investigator, Sequoia’s VP Science & Technology, Dr. Wayne H. Slade says: ”University of Maine was the ideal partner for this proposal since Dr. Meg Estapa is a world-wide and well-known expert in sinking particle flux and has championed the type of measurements that the LISST-OST is based upon.“  

University of Maine’s Dr. Meg Estapa says: “Sequoia Scientific, Inc. has a proven track record going back almost 30 years in bringing novel ocean science particle sensing technology to market. With their understanding of electro-optics and their hardware design skills it was an easy and safe decision to collaborate with PI Dr. Slade and the rest of the Sequoia team on the NSF proposal. We are very excited to see the sensor being commercialized and made available for the scientific community already in 2024.“ 

Sequoia Scientific, Inc. invented the LISST series of aquatic science sensors in 1995. Since then, more than 40 different types of sensors have been developed, prototyped, or manufactured by Sequoia. Today, thousands of Sequoia instruments are in use, helping ocean and freshwater scientists and managers around the world better understand our oceans and the aquatic environment. 

Founded in 1865, the University of Maine is a land and Sea Grant institution and the flagship campus of the University of Maine System. This vibrant and dynamic university serves the residents of Maine, the nation, and the world through its acclaimed programs in teaching, research, and outreach. 

About the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Programs: America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2136735. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. 

For more information  about the LISST-OST, contact Sequoia: