Optical Detection of Fluids

Kaden Hubly ’22

Student: Kaden Hubly ’22
Research Mentors: Thomas Weiss and Ivan Rajkovic (Stanford University SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

It is important for a research lab to operate efficiently in order to save time and money. Doing so leads to more discoveries that can benefit humankind in a shorter period of time. In order to improve the efficiency of a lab at Stanford’s SLAC research facility, I wrote a computer program using the python programming language that reduces the amount of biological material needed for them to run their experiments. This improves efficiency as obtaining biological materials is time consuming and expensive.

Solution small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) is one of the few experimental techniques in structural biology that is capable of depicting the structure of proteins that have been in solution. To begin the experiment, the sample solution is inserted into a capillary tube where it interacts with an X-ray beam. In the current sample delivery process, a higher volume of protein is used than necessary to ensure that the X-ray beam hits the sample within its boundaries. This is problematic as obtaining the protein is a tedious and expensive process, so reducing the volume of protein needed is crucial to improving experimental efficiency. To do so, a computer program using the python programming language was written to automatically detect where the sample is in relation to the X-ray position using camera images. Furthermore, if the X-ray is not hitting within sample boundaries, it indicates how far and in what direction the sample needs to be moved.