OD Device
We are measuring optical density using the presented cuvette holder.
Particularly for optical density measurement the amount of light shining through the sample is crucial.
If there is too few light, there will be not enough light registered at the sensor, and the resolution of the measurement shrinks. This should be prevented.
The chosen light to frequency sensor is reported to be very sensitive on the amount of light shining on it.
There are reports of the sensor breaking when put into sunlight on a nice day, and not being sensitive at both high light or low light conditions.
Commercial systems usually use a laser beam to shine through the sample. For reasons of available components, we omitted this in our plans. Finding a suitable orange laser is not easy.
Instead we chose an LED, which unfortunately scatters light, both in the spectrum as well as in all directions.
Using a filter we reduce the effect of scattering.
Finally the Fire 019 filters solves our problems, but is far away from ideal.
Evaluation
From Transmittance to True Optical Density
At very low levels, uncorrected photometric determinations of cell densities show a decreasing proportionaility to actual cell density.
This can also be observed using our OD measurement device.
In general, photometric determination of bacterial concentrations depends primarily on light scattering, rather than light absorption. Therefore. often not absorption is measured, but transmittance. For this, the relationship between optical density (OD) and transmitted light $\frac{I_0}{I}$ exists as:
$$ OD = \frac{I_0}{I} = \kappa \cdot c$$
However, this equation is linear only in a certain range.
While one can tackle this nonlinearity by using dilutions of the culture, correcting the error systematically is another way to overcome this limitation.
For our OD device we needed to correlate the transmittance measured by our sensor to an optical density anyway.
Our team members from the deterministic sciences emphasized on the correction method, which was conducted according to Lawrence and Maier [1]:
 The relative density ($RD$) of each sample in a dilution series is calculated using $\frac{min(dilution)}{dilution}$.
 The uncorrected optical density is derived from the transmission T [%]: $OD = 2  \log T$
 Finally, the unit optical density is calculated as $\frac{OD}{TD}$.
 The average of the stable unit optical densities is used to calculate the true optical density $ OD_{unit} \cdot RD $.
This way, the correlation between transmission and true optical density can be computed.
The derived function allows the conversion from transmission to optical density on our device and therefore calibrates our device.
Lawrence and Maier could show that correcting transmittance this way, the corrected optical density shows a linear relationship between true optical density and dry weight in cell suspensions.
In our experiments, we find in accordance to [1] that the correction majorly depends on the technical equipment used, especially the LED, sensor and cuvettes.
While this at first sight looks disappointing, it is also expected:
Transmittance is the fraction of light not absorbed by some medium relative to the cellfree and clear medium.
However, the transmittance is not only dependent on the amount of cells in the way of the light's beam, but also how much light shines through the cuvette in which fashion, and in which fraction is received by the sensor in which angles.
Using the above formula we performed this experiment for Pseudomonas putida and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Experiments
We performed several experiments during the development of the OD/F device.
Finally we can relate the measured transmittance to the true Optical Density, and further, we can relate that true OD to the one of the photospectrometer in our lab.
By doing to we can calibrate our device to meaningful values.
We have done this according to the previous section for Pseudomonas putida and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The final function for calculating the OD from the transmission calculated by our device can be calculated as
$$ OD = f(T) \circ g(device) $$
where $f$ transforms transforms transmittance to true optical density for our device, and $g$ transforms true optical density of our device into the true optical density of the photospectrometer. This way our device is calibrated according to the photospectrometer.
Pseudomonas putida
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
From these plots it can first be seen that our device delivers robust and reproducible results for both procaryotes and eucaryotes.
Also the function from transmittance to true od can be expressed as a lower polynomial function, making its calculation easily possible on a lowend device like a microcontroller.
Most encouraging is that the function for relating the true OD of our device to the photospectrometer is, as seen by the regression coefficient, close together for both P. putida and S. cerivisae. In fact, 3.416 and 3.446 are such close together, that the minor deviation could be just measuring inaccuracy.
Therefore we fix the regression coefficient for converting true OD of our device to true OD of the photospectrometer to 3.432 .
It is interesting to note, that also the function $f$ for the conversion of transmittance to true optical density fit nicely together, as can be seen in the following figure.
By this evaluation we have shown that our selfbuild optical density measurement device can compete with commercial systems, and moreover, is easy to calibrate by just calculating the true optical density.
Therefore we present a device which measures accurately and is made of easily available parts at a low cost.
