Effective and sustainable environmental monitoring is fundamental for environmental protection measures and research. The mass spectrometer used in these cases for identification and quantification of particles is inter alia made of a sample inlet system (SIS), which has to be both very pressure-resistant, and very permeable for an optimal registration of particles in the deep sea. The membrane holder is the essential element to maintain this functionality.

In this work, Simone Andresen (University of Applied Sciences Bremen, International Degree Course Biomimetics) examined pore structures of diatoms which also have a high permeability and compressive strength due to the need of mass transfer and the function of their exoskeleton. Using the finite element method, the 3D-modelled structures were compared regarding their diffusion properties and the deflection at pressure load both among themselves, and with the currently used SIS – membrane holders of sintered structures and steel springs. The deflection of the semipermeable membrane which has to be supported by the holding structure was studied, too.

With respect to the design of an optimal sample inlet structure, the results showed that the bionic structures allow a combination of diffusion and deflection. Based on the results the effects of different structural elements on the diffusion and the stiffness were discussed. Both the design of the best possible pore size of the support structure for the membrane, and the integration of stiffening elements are of great importance for the structure of an innovative membrane holder.

Finally a first approach to the development of an optimized membrane holder for sample inlet systems in the deep sea was presented.