Chemical films and monolayers on the water surface and their interactions with ultraviolet radiation: A pilot investigation

Peter Schouten, Charles Lemckert, David Turnbull, Alfio Parisi, Nathan Downs, Ian Underhill, Geoff Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past 50 years numerous types of chemical films and monolayers have been deployed on top of a wide variety of water reserves in an endeavour to reduce evaporation. To date very little knowledge has been assimilated on how these chemical films and monolayers, once applied to a water surface, influence the underwater UV light field and, in turn, the delicate ecosystems that exist in aquatic environments. This manuscript presents underwater UV exposure profiles weighted to the DNA damage action spectrum measured under an octadecanol/hexadecanol/lime chemical film mixture, a silicone-based chemical film and an octadecanol monolayer applied to the water surface. UV transmission and absorption properties were also evaluated for each of these chemical films and monolayers. From this it was found that when chemical films/monolayers are applied to surface water they can reduce the penetration of biologically effective UV into the water column by up to 85% at a depth as small as 1 cm. This could have a positive influence on the aquatic ecosystem, as harmful UV radiation may be prevented from reaching and consequently damaging a variety of life forms or it could have a negative effect by potentially stopping aquatic organisms from adapting to solar ultraviolet radiation over extended application intervals. Additionally, there is currently no readily applicable system or technique available to readily detect or visualize chemical films and monolayers on the water surface. To overcome this problem a new method of monolayer and chemical film visualization, using a UV camera system, is detailed and tested and its applicability for usage in both laboratory-based trials and real-world operations is evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065703
Pages (from-to)1-47
Number of pages47
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


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