Koç University, Turkey
Development of Novel Lab-on-a-chip Optofluidic Waveguides and Flow Manipulation Methods Using Advanced Materials and Fabrication Techniques
Optofluidics which is an emerging research field located at the intersection point of physics, optics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and biophysics is the subject of the proposed project. Fluids possess unique properties for designing optical components and systems: (i) they have optically smooth interfaces and (ii) they provide a great flexibility in shape and refractive index. Thus, they can be used for designing novel optical devices that cannot be achieved with classical solid materials. In addition to inspiring novel all-optical applications, optofluidic devices pave the way for improved chemical and biological functionality in lab-on-a-chip systems where samples can be handled and analyzed in very small volumes.
Future, integrated and portable optofluidic devices will necessitate on-chip light delivery systems which will greatly benefit from optofluidic waveguides. These waveguides can serve in the delivery of both the excitation light to the sample and the light collected from the sample to various photodetection systems. Besides, optofluidc waveguides also enable light-sample interaction over extended volumes. This way more efficient photo-bio-reactors or more sensitive chemical and biological sensors can be obtained.
In this project, novel lab-on-a-chip technologies will be developed using advanced materials like silica aerogels or advanced fabrication techniques like laser ablation or supercritical drying, and these technologies will be applied to optofluidic waveguides and micro-flow manipulation, for the first time in the literature. The project will include three novel methods of obtaining optofluidic waveguides. (1) Optofluidic waveguides will be obtained in silica aerogels using three-dimensional molds of advanced materials (such as trifluoropropyl Polihedral Oligomerik) that dissolve in supercritical CO2 but not in other solvents used during silica aerogel synthesis. Empty channels defined by these three dimensional molds will be obtained in hydrophobic silica aerogels and after filling of the channels by water or other polar liquids, optofluidic waveguides will be obtained. (2) Superhydrophobic surfaces will be ablated following two dimensional patterns using laser ablation and optofluidic waveguides will be obtained by wetting of the ablated regions with water or other polar liquids. Different substrates including glass and MgF2 will be tried in order to obtain non-leaky waveguides. (3) Laser ablation will be used to ablate three dimensional patterns on hydrophobic silica aerogels. Optofluidic waveguides will be obtained by wetting of the ablated region using water or other polar liquids. In addition to these, this project includes the development of novel microfluidic flow manipulation methods for microdroplets using substrates whose superhydrophobic coating is ablated along two-dimensional channels. Besides, the integrated optofluidic chip platforms that will be revealed during the course of the project will be used to develop novel molecular sensors, especially targeting applications in bioenergy production using algae.
Immediate results of this project will be the research and development of novel methods to obtain optofluidic waveguides and to manipulate the flow of droplets that serve as micro-reactors in microfluidic systems. Future lab-on-a-chip systems will employ platforms that combine microfluidic channels with optical waveguides in the same chip. Such a platform cannot be obtained using the conventional approach of fabricating microfluidic chips using soft lithography. Results obtained from this project will pave the way for novel optofluidic chip platforms using methods that are either complementary or alternative to the conventional ones. This project will also lead to the development of novel applications of these platforms in biological and chemical sensing, and bioenergy production.
Participation to this COST action will enable exchange of knowledge with European researchers working in optofluidics. These interactions will lead to new partnerships and will also enable efficient dissemination of the project results. Besides, this project will also lead to build the critical exptertise and train personnel for optofluidics research in Turkey. This will ensure Turkey’s role in new technologies that will be developed in this field in the future.
TÜBİTAK – The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey
WG3: Materials (soft, bio and nano) and technologies for optofluidic devices