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Tap water fingerprinting using a convolutional neural network built from images of the coffee-ring effect

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Abstract

A low-cost tap water fingerprinting technique was evaluated using the coffee-ring effect, a phenomenon by which tap water droplets leave distinguishable “fingerprint” residue patterns after water evaporates. Tap waters from communities across southern Michigan dried on aluminum and photographed with a cell phone camera and 30× loupe produced unique and reproducible images. A convolutional neural network (CNN) model was trained using the images from the Michigan tap waters, and despite the small size of the image dataset, the model assigned images into groups with similar water chemistry with 80% accuracy. Synthetic solutions containing only the majority species measured in Detroit, Lansing, and Michigan State University tap waters did not display the same residue patterns as collected waters; thus, the lower concentration species also influence the tap water “fingerprint”. Residue pattern images from salt mixtures with an array of sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, and sulfate concentrations were analyzed by measuring features observed in the photographs as well as using principal component analysis (PCA) on the image files and particles measurements. These analyses together highlighted differences in the residue patterns associated with the water chemistry in the sample. The results of these experiments suggest that the unique and reproducible residue patterns of tap water samples that can be imaged with a cell phone camera and a loupe contain a wealth of information about the overall composition of the tap water, and thus, the phenomenon should be further explored for potential use in low-cost tap water fingerprinting.

Graphical abstract: Tap water fingerprinting using a convolutional neural network built from images of the coffee-ring effect

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Article information


Submitted
23 Aug 2019
Accepted
28 Dec 2019
First published
30 Dec 2019

This article is Open Access

Analyst, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Tap water fingerprinting using a convolutional neural network built from images of the coffee-ring effect

X. Li, A. R. Sanderson, S. S. Allen and R. H. Lahr, Analyst, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C9AN01624D

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