Team:Aachen/OD/F device


Revision as of 16:57, 17 October 2014 by Mjoppich (Talk | contribs)

OD/F Device

Measuring Optical Density (OD) or absorbance is one of the key and indispensable element in the field of microbiology. One question that has to be answered often is how many cells are in a suspension? Here, the OD can give a hint. However, the commercially available OD meters are expensive and limit its application and usage in low budget institutions.

Therefore, here we present our OD/F device. The device is specifically designed for biohackspaces, Do It Yourself (DIY), community laboratories and schools. With our OD/F device, we aim to enable precise and inexpensive science research at a low cost.

Further, in Synthetic Biology, the task of measuring OD and fluorescence are often performed at the same time. Hence, here we present a device that can be configured to simultaneously measure both fluorescence and OD. With such a configuration of the OD/F device, the production of fluorescence signal can be correlated to cell growth using a single and a portable device.

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Measuring Principle

Measuring Principle The measuring principle for both optical density (OD) and fluorescence measurement is shown below. For OD measurement, the sample is illuminated with an LED and a fixed slit width. A filter blocks any light less than 600 nm. In this way, the sensor mainly senses the 600 nm light which is needed for OD600 measurement.

For the fluorescence measurement, a similar approach is followed. The filter, again, is used to block the exciting light from being sensed. In this way, only the emitted light from the fluorescence protein is detected and measured.

Further details about selecting filters, code, a construction manual and evaluation can be found here.

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Measuring principle for OD/F device
The left image shows the measurement approach for the optical density. The light shines through the sample with a fixed width. The right image shows the fluorescence measurement approach, exciting the fluorescence proteins from below and measuring from the side.
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Our OD/F Device

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Modus operandi of OD/F Device

The device is constructed to make it easy-to-handle for the end users. The standard operating procedure to operate and measure optical density or fluorescence is schematically shown in the figure below.

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In fact, you can find some DIY posts for turbidity meters such as turbidity sensors. However, a proper assessment of their linearity as well as a calculated OD-value are missing.

Regarding fluorescence, we are of course not re-inventing the wheel (well, not totally). The 2010 iGEM Cambridge team actually built a very similar device, the E.glometer. However, there's no data available showing an actual comparison of the data from their device and some proven commercial system to, for example, assess linearity of the measurement.

When building the OD/F Device, our goal was to develop a system that

  • is straightforward to use
  • is at least as accurate as commercially available systems but at the same time costs significantly less
  • produces stable, reproducible results
  • weights little and is easy to carry around
  • uses widely available parts and is easy to build
  • can measured both optical density and fluorescence

Commercially available equipment uses lasers and a set of two fine filters, one between laser and sample and one between sample and sensor. To reduce the cost price, our OD/F Device uses a simpler measuring principle: it is designed with one low-quality filter, between sample and sensor, and illuminates with an LED instead of a laser. However, the LED is not as accurate as a laser and has a non-optimal spectrum. In addition to that, due to missing filter between the laser and sample, stray light might influence the measurement. Nevertheless, one main goal was to produce an inexpensive device. Given that we therefore had to compromise some of the measurement quality, were we still able to produce stable, precise and good data?

[graphs showing the awesomeness of our OD/F device]

The answer is: Yes! With the optimal design of our cuvette holder we achieved good-quality results albeit using the cheap filter.

The device works with a single button, used for setting a reference/blank measurement and is straightforward to use. We made a commercial assessment of the OD/F device that results in a total cost of 60 $. The unit is built with light plexiglass for the casing and the compact design and weighs less than 200 g and can be easily connected to any power adapter via USB. Thetechnical details and a construction manual of OD/F device is published on our wiki.

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