Inexpensive Near-Infrared Fluorimeters: Enabling Translation of nIR-Based Assays to the Field.


Kallmyer NE(1), Abdennadher MS(1), Agarwal S(1), Baldwin-Kordick R(2), Khor RL(1), Kooistra AS(1), Peterson E(1), McDaniel MD(2), Reuel NF(1).
Author information:
(1)Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 618 Bissell Rd., Ames, Iowa 50011, United States.
(2)Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, 716 Farm House Ln., Ames, Iowa 50011, United States.


The practical impact of analytical probes that transduce in the near-infrared (nIR) has been dampened by the lack of cost-effective and portable nIR fluorimeters. Herein, we demonstrate straightforward designs for an inexpensive microplate reader and a portable fluorimeter. These instruments require minimally complex machining and fabrication and operate with an open-source programming language (Python). Complete wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams, and scripts are provided. To demonstrate the utility of these two instruments, we performed high-throughput and field-side measurements of soil samples to evaluate the effect of soil management strategies on extracellular proteolytic, cellulolytic, and lignin-modifying activities. This was accomplished with fluorescent enzyme probes that utilized uniquely sensitive transducers exclusive to the nIR spectrum, single-walled carbon nanotubes. We also used the portable fluorimeter to evaluate spatial variations of proteolytic activity within individual field plots, while minimizing the effects of soil storage and handling. These demonstrations indicate the utility of these fluorimeters for translating analytical probes that operate in the nIR beyond the laboratory and into actual use.