The goal of the Open Science Tools project is to design and mass-produce open and low-cost laboratory equipment for schools, laboratories, DIY-Bio community, industry, Citizen Scientists, and everybody else. We try to do this without compromising on performance, by taking unconventional approaches, concentrating on just major use-cases for a given device, and staying true to our goal.
We welcome everybody to participate! All Open Science Tools hardware is open-source, you are free to build, modify and share it. We will also mass-produce the devices to make them available to all users at a low cost.
Criteria for our projects include:
- We need to be able to lower the price significantly, ideally an order of magnitude or more.
- We can make it work as well or nearly as well as existing devices, even if for a subset of applications.
- It's possible to mass-produce the device.
All our hardware projects are documented extensively in our wiki and github repositories. Click here to visit the wiki.
The open source spectrophotometer
A spectrophotometer measures the amount of light that passes through the sample at a given wavelength. To produce light at the right wavelength, most spectrophotometers use a mechano-optical system to position a monochromator at the right angle from the light source, and a slit to only select the right wavelength. DIλ is an Open Hardware spectrophotometer, designed to be accurate, easy to modify, and extremely cheap. We achieve this by using LEDs instead of an optical refraction system. To learn more about this tool visit its page in the wiki.
This design choice means that the device is limited to one or a few pre-selected wavelengths, but most biological applications only use a few. It is also possible to select a different wavelength by populating a spare LED board, but since it's so cheap, it might be easier to just buy one for each task. Another disadvantage is large spectral width of LEDs, typically 15-25nm, compared to 1-5 nm for traditional spectrophotometers.
With a few wavelengths, the spectrophotometers allows anyone to make real experiments! You can measure the quantity of glucose in your drink, measure the pH in water, and much more. One of our early versions is still used by a start-up from Paris to quantify grown of the spirulina algae.
All this means that DI-lambda is not always able to replace a traditional spectrophotometer, but works great for a majority of biological applications.