Arsenic Prototype 1

From BioDesign for the Real-World
Revision as of 14:17, 4 May 2017 by Derishus (Talk | contribs) (Our device)

Jump to: navigation, search


This is the beginnings of the Arsenic detector prototypes - Arsenic Prototype 1 within the full Chronology of the prototypes. This version was developed at EPFL in 2013, and is part of their 2013 Final Report.


For our first prototype, we decided to remain open to either Arsenic or E.Coli detection. We did background research on different methods, to have a panel of what was available and matched our criteria. We wanted to create a device open-source, not too expensive, easy-to-use and portable.

From all the methods we found, we chose fluorescence, which seemed to be the easiest technique to take out of the lab and allowed to detect both Arsenic and E.Coli.


A typical fluorometer looks like that :

800px-Open Fluorometer Design 2.png

The fluorescence is measured at an angle of 90° from the light source.

The light from the LED passes through a lense to be focused and then through a filter, to only let the excitation wavelength pass through. That filtered light will excite the sample, which will emit at another wavelength and will then be detected. In general, photodiodes or photomultiplier are used as detectors, but they are quite expensive. That is the reason why we looked for an alternative : a digital camera. Indeed, all camera contains an RGB filter, which can be used to detect only the range of wavelength we want to detect. And for the LED, we used one that emits at the range of excitation wavelength we needed, so we could eliminate the filter from the list of elements to purchase.

Our device

For the actual prototype, we first used two paperboard boxes stuck together with two holes for the camera and the LED. The box is closed so no external light would disturb the measurement. Inside, there is a horizontal place for the sample-holder and ouside we used an Arduino as the LED current source.

Prototype 1 view 1.JPG Prototype 1 view 2.JPG

To analyze the data, we used ImageJ, a free/open-source image processing software. We used the fact that it is possible to split an image according to the different red/green/blue filter. So first, we split the color channels and kept only the green composant. Then, we substracted the blank (green) to eliminate the noise (to make sure no fluorescence of the blank would interfere with our sample). And finally, we measured the pixels intensity of the sample in a specific region we chose (drawing of a rectangle to be more precise). After the measure, the output of the software is given in the form : AREA (number of pixel analyzed), MEAN (sum of all the intensities divided by the Area), MIN (minimal pixel intensity) and MAX (maximal pixel intensity). The parameter we took into account are the MEAN and the AREA, the first one corresponds to the fluorecence intentity and the second one was used to determine the error made each time we draw a rectangle.



To automate the camera, we used CHDK (canon hacking development kit), an open source software that allow script writing and additional features that are in principle not available in cheap cameras. Thus, with this program, we were able to set constant parameters, as the exposure time (or shutter speed) to 1 sec and ISO to 0.