Abstract

In this paper, we report experimental results where laser speckle grain size and degree of light polarization are used to distinguish different sizes of Bacillus thuringiensis spherical crystals and different concentration within fermentation products. Three strains of Bacillus thuringiensis, isolated from the Lebanese soil, are selected. After fermentation, crystals and spores are separated using a technique based on flotation in order to obtain large quantities of relatively pure crystals. Crystals are then embedded in an agarose matrix gel and illuminated by a laser. Speckle patterns are recorded and analyzed. Results show that when crystal concentrations increase in the sample, the values of the degree of light linear polarization and speckle grain size decrease, and the negative values of light circular polarization degree increase. A transition from a Rayleigh scattering regime to a Mie regime is also observed. Furthermore, when the diameter of spherical crystals increases, the normalized value of the light linear polarization degree and the grain size diminish drastically for a given concentration of crystals in the matrix, whereas the normalized value of light circular polarization degree increases. This optical characterization constitutes an unambiguous signature of spherical crystals produced by fermentations of different Bacillus thuringiensis strains and shows that speckle may potentially be used at an industrial scale as a low-cost and noninvasive technique in order to characterize crystal geometry and to evaluate the yield of crystal production within fermentation.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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