[Micromachines] A Perspective on the Rise of Optofluidics and the Future - Review
In the recent past, the field of optofluidics has thrived from the immense efforts of researchers from diverse communities. The concept of optofluidics combines optics and microfluidics to exploit novel properties and functionalities. In the very beginning, the unique properties of liquid, such as mobility, fungibility and deformability, initiated the motivation to develop optical elements or functions using fluid interfaces. Later on, the advancements of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) and microfluidic technologies enabled the realization of optofluidic components through the precise manipulation of fluids at microscale thus making it possible to streamline complex fabrication processes. The optofluidic system aims to fully integrate optical functions on a single chip instead of using external bulky optics, which can consequently lower the cost of system, downsize the system and make it promising for point-of-care diagnosis. This perspective gives an overview of the recent developments in the field of optofluidics. Firstly, the fundamental optofluidic components will be discussed and are categorized according to their basic working mechanisms, followed by the discussions on the functional instrumentations of the optofluidic components, as well as the current commercialization aspects of optofluidics. The paper concludes with the critical challenges that might hamper the transformation of optofluidic technologies from lab-based procedures to practical usages and commercialization.
Chaolong Song 1,* and Say Hwa Tan 2 1 School of Mechanical Engineering and Electronic Information, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), Wuhan 430074, China 2 Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Brisbane, QLD 4111, Australia * Correspondence: Tel.: +86-27-6788-3273 Academic Editors: Weihua Li, Hengdong Xi and Nam-Trung Nguyen Received: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 2 May 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017