Integration methods for enhanced trapping and spectroscopy in optofluidics
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“Lab on a Chip” technologies have revolutionized the field of bio-chemical analytics. The crucial role of optical techniques in this revolution resulted in the emergence of a field by itself, which is popularly termed as “optofluidics”. The miniaturization and integration of the optical parts in the majority of optofluidic devices however still remains a technical challenge. The works described in this thesis focuses on developing integration methods to combine various optical techniques with microfluidics in an alignment-free geometry, which could lead to the development of portable analytical devices, suitable for field applications. The integration approach was applied to implement an alignment-free optofluidic chip for optical chromatography; a passive optical fractionation technique fractionation for cells or colloids. This system was realized by embedding large mode area photonic crystal fiber into a microfluidic chip to achieve on-chip laser beam delivery. Another study on passive sorting envisages an optofluidic device for passive sorting of cells using an optical potential energy landscape, generated using an acousto-optic deflector based optical trapping system. On the analytical side, an optofluidic chip with fiber based microfluidic Raman spectroscopy was realized for bio-chemical analysis. A completely alignment-free optofluidic device was realized for rapid bio-chemical analysis in the first generation by embedding a novel split Raman probe into a microfluidic chip. The second generation development of this approach enabled further miniaturization into true microfluidic dimensions through a technique, termed Waveguide Confined Raman Spectroscopy (WCRS). The abilities of WCRS for online process monitoring in a microreactor and for probing microdroplets were explored. Further enhanced detection sensitivity of WCRS with the implementation of wavelength modulation based fluorescent suppression technique was demonstrated. WCRS based microfluidic devices can be an optofluidic analogue to fiber Raman probes when it comes to bio-chemical analysis. This allows faster chemical analysis with reduced required sample volume, without any special sample preparation stage which was demonstrated by analyzing and classifying various brands of Scotch whiskies using this device. The results from this study also show that, along with Raman spectroscopic information, WCRS picks up the fluorescence information as well, which might enhance the classification efficiency. A novel microfabrication method for fabricating polymer microlensed fibers is also discussed. The microlensed fiber, fabricated with this technique, was combined with a microfluidic gene delivery system to achieve an integrated system for optical transfection with localized gene delivery.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy