12-year-old girl rises to fame for invention of microplastics detection robot

The principle behind the invention is that the chemical bonds in plastics absorb infrared

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Anna Du invents an infrared based microplastics detection robot (Screenshot of her YouTube video)

Anna Du invents an infrared based microplastics detection robot (Screenshot of her YouTube video)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A 12-year-old eco-minded girl has wowed the scientific world with a water-cleansing invention, an infrared based robot which can identify microplastics floating in the ocean, which has the potential of tackling the ever more serious problem of increasing pollution in the world's oceans.

Anna Du from Massachusetts loves marine animals and frequents Boston Harbor. One day when she visited the harbor, she was upset at the nearly impossible task of cleaning up all the plastic particles in the sand, when she was struck by a eureka moment, and she realized that she could actually do something to help save the oceans, reported Popular Mechanics.

As she explained in a YouTube video about her innovative idea, Anna pointed out that the chemical bonds within plastics can absorb infrared, so she built a remotely operated vehicle that can detect microplastics in the ocean and thus contribute to the removal of the plastic materials posing a danger to marine life.

The invention has caught the attention of major tech companies and made her a finalist in the “3M Young Scientist Lab,” where she will receive mentorship from scientists and work to improve her device. An ambitious girl, she plans to take the technology to the next level by creating an autonomous microplastic-detecting drone, the report said.

Microplastics, according to the definition of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are particles of plastic under five millimeters. A recent study showed that for every liter of sea ice samples taken from Arctic Ocean, there appeared to contain a record high amount of 12,000 microplastic particles.