DIY NanoDrop

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Revision as of 15:39, 14 October 2014 by Gaudi (talk | contribs) (LED-Spectrometer)
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DIY NanoDrop.jpg

Attempt to build DIY Microvolume Spectrophotometers or Fluorospectrometers to quantitate micro-volumes of sample. The NanoDrop products are very popular in scientific labs. The measurement principle of holding a drop between two points - the light source and the sensor - allows to measure samples as small as 0.5µL up to 2µL micro volume without a cuvette. The simple basic principle should be perfect for DIY lab equipment. Let's try.

Possible applications:

- Turbidity measurement
- Spectral data and purity analysis
- Measure nucleic acid, protein and colorimetric assays
- Microvolume fluorescence measurements

To start simple, two approaches are tested, one based on the DVD spectrometer and a webcam and one using an LED and a photo sensor.


This version for the visible light spectrum is based on a DIY spectrometer using a DVD-R optical diffraction grating and a USB webcam as described by PublicLab. Use the excellent online software workbench to analyse data - .


The device built is very compact (110 mm x 45mm x 80 mm) and can be assembled and calibrated quite easily.
The distance between the LED light source and the light guide (piece of laser cut acrylic) can be adjusted by means of a simple screw.
The LED is connected to the USB supply voltage of the webcam.

NanoDropSpectrometer laser.jpg

All the parts can be cut from 3mm wood. For best performance use MDF with water repellent coating on one side and backside sprayed black.
NanoDropSpectrometer lasercutting.jpg


A flat head LED and a flat head photo diode are put together, a drop of liquid in between - this is it. Maybe add a screw to set the distance between the light source and the sensor. A small arduino can measure the light sensor and send the data to the computer via USB.

DIY NanoDropConceptLED.png

Prototype of LED-Photosensor Version

High performance LEDs can replace expensive light source and filters for excitation.


The very first prototype:

DIY NanoDropProto1.jpg

Now the NanoDrop principle seems to be patented (patent US6628382 and US6809826). However there are many similar products on the market under the term of "Microvolume Spectrophotometers"...? Doesn't matter anyways if you just build one for your own use.

DIY NanoDropPatent1.pngDIY NanoDropPatent2.png

DIY NanoDropTechnicalDrawing1.png