Applications of microfluidic chips in optical manipulation & photoporation
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Integration and miniaturisation in electronics has undoubtedly revolutionised the modern world. In biotechnology, emerging lab-on-a-chip (LOC) methodologies promise all-integrated laboratory processes, to perform complete biochemical or medical synthesis and analysis encapsulated on small microchips. The integration of electrical, optical and physical sensors, and control devices, with fluid handling, is creating a new class of functional chip-based systems. Scaled down onto a chip, reagent and sample consumption is reduced, point-of-care or in-the-field usage is enabled through portability, costs are reduced, automation increases the ease of use, and favourable scaling laws can be exploited, such as improved fluid control. The capacity to manipulate single cells on-chip has applications across the life sciences, in biotechnology, pharmacology, medical diagnostics and drug discovery. This thesis explores multiple applications of optical manipulation within microfluidic chips. Used in combination with microfluidic systems, optics adds powerful functionalities to emerging LOC technologies. These include particle management such as immobilising, sorting, concentrating, and transportation of cell-sized objects, along with sensing, spectroscopic interrogation, and cell treatment. The work in this thesis brings several key applications of optical techniques for manipulating and porating cell-sized microscopic particles to within microfluidic chips. The fields of optical trapping, optical tweezers and optical sorting are reviewed in the context of lab-on-a-chip application, and the physics of the laminar fluid flow exhibited at this size scale is detailed. Microfluidic chip fabrication methods are presented, including a robust method for the introduction of optical fibres for laser beam delivery, which is demonstrated in a dual-beam optical trap chip and in optical chromatography using photonic crystal fibre. The use of a total internal reflection microscope objective lens is utilised in a novel demonstration of propelling particles within fluid flow. The size and refractive index dependency is modelled and experimentally characterised, before presenting continuous passive optical sorting of microparticles based on these intrinsic optical properties, in a microfluidic chip. Finally, a microfluidic system is utilised in the delivery of mammalian cells to a focused femtosecond laser beam for continuous, high throughput photoporation. The optical injection efficiency of inserting a fluorescent dye is determined and the cell viability is evaluated. This could form the basis for ultra-high throughput, efficient transfection of cells, with the advantages of single cell treatment and unrivalled viability using this optical technique.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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