The past decade has witnessed an explosion in microfluidic research and its applications in biology, chemistry, and medicine. This rapid development has occurred mainly because of the continuous fusion of new physics into microfluidic domains. In recent years, researchers have made significant progress in joining acoustic and optical technologies with microfluidics. Optofluidics, the merger between optics and microfluidics, enables the creation of reconfigurable optical components that are otherwise difficult to implement with solid-state technology. Acoustofluidics, on the other hand, offers noninvasive solutions for many on-chip biomedical applications.
In this talk, I will present several lab-on-a-chip innovations enabled by acoustofluidics and optofluidics, including acoustic tweezers, tunable optofluidic and plasmofluidic lenses, and miniature fluorescence-activated cell sorters (FACS). These technological innovations have many advantages and are packaged in simple, elegant designs. For example, our acoustic tweezers operate at ~107 times lower power intensity than current optical tweezers. The low power intensity renders our technology noninvasive toward biological samples, as confirmed by experimental results. Moreover, the acoustic tweezers are amenable to miniaturization and versatile—they can be applied to virtually any type of cells or microparticles regardless of size, shape, or electrical/magnetic/optical properties. With the advantages in versatility, miniaturization, power consumption, and technical simplicity, our acoustic tweezers technique are expected to become a powerful tool in many applications, including tissue engineering, microarrays, stem cell biology, and drug screening/discovery.