Sunday, July 15, 2012

Optofluidics: Fusion of Optics and Microfluidics

Optofluidics is a research and technology area that combines the advantages of microfluidics and optics. Applications of the technology include displays, biosensors, lab-on-chip devices, lenses, and molecular imaging tools and energy.
Since the term “optofluidics” was coined in 2003 to describe systems that combine optics and fluidics, its usage has grown exponentially. Therefore, we will summarize the recent efforts on optofluidics in this post: 
Review Papers on Optofluidics:

Special Issues on Optofluidics:
1) Nature Photonics, October 2011 Issue, "Although the term 'optofluidics' is less than 10 years old, the combination of light and non-solids is being exploited by researchers who are finding applications in fields ranging from imaging, detection of chemical or biological agents and particle control, through to enhancing photonic circuits and energy generation. The October 2011 issue of Nature Photonics has a special focus on optofluidics dedicated to some of the latest advances in field." Link to the issue

2) Biomicrofluidics, December 2010 Issue, "This Special Topic section of Biomicrofluidics is on optofluidics or micro-optofluidic systems (MOFS), a burgeoning technology that aims to manipulate light and fluid at microscale and exploits their interaction to create highly versatile devices and integrated systems. This special issue puts together various contributed articles focusing on optofluidics or MOFS, which help inspire new research ideas and innovation in the microfluidics and nanofluidics community." Link to the issue
3) Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, September 2007 Issue, "Optical devices which incorporate liquids as a fundamental part of the structure can be traced at least as far back as the eighteenth century when rotating pools of mercury were proposed as a simple technique to create smooth mirrors for use in reflecting telescopes. Modern microfluidic and nanofluidics have enabled the development of a present day equivalent of such devices centered on the marriage of fluidics and optics which has come to be known over thelast few years as ‘‘Optofluidics.’’ Recent review articles by two of the pioneering groups in the field, namely the Psaltis (Psaltis et al. 2006) and Eggleton (Monat et al. 2007) groups, as well as a number of conferences and conference sessions have helped to distinguish Optofluidics as a separate research field rather than a simple subdiscipline of either microfluidics or optics. Building on these earlier efforts, this special issue represents the first attempt to bring together a collection of journal papers spanning the areas of interest of prestigious investigators in the field." Link to the issue

Companies and Centers on Optofludics:
1) Optofluidics Corp:
2) DARPA Center for Optofluidics:
3) W. M. Keck Center For Nanoscale Optofluidics:
4) Liquilume Diagnostic Inc:

Research Groups working on Optofluidics:
The list of the research group worldwide can be viewed at wikipedia of optofluidics:

Conferences on Optofluidics:
EOS Conference on Optofluidics
International Conference on Optofluidics

Final Remarks:
Optofluidic devices continue to be developed and will benefit from these and other techniques, including liquid crystals in microfluidic channels. In the future, optofluidics may have far-reaching consequences. For example, an on-chip nanofabrication factory could take advantage of the various control techniques such as optical tweezers to build molecular constructions in a fluid environment. Also, some authors look forward to a photonic integrated circuit, where one can reconfigure optical components with on-chip fluidics. Such a multitasking device might become possible though a combination of optical devices that use fluidics for reconfigurability. However, the current work with single-task devices should be developed first before we can correctly design devices that can be reconfigured to perform multiple tasks. For example, the optofluidic microscope shows promise as a single-task device, but combining it with other devices may also eventually prove to be fruitful. Of course, optics and fluidics can be combined with other lab on chip techniques: electric, mechanical, thermal, magnetic, etc. The integration of optics and fluidics on-chip will certainly become more prominent as the methods are developed. As a technique, optofluidics will create new possibilities for tunable microscale devices across fields. (Reference: Optofluidics: field or technique?, Lab Chip, 2008. )

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