Monolithic integration of optical traps and microfluidic channels

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The key motivation for the project is to make the optical trapping toolkit more accessible to the life sciences community. By integrating optical traps directly into microfluidic circuitry, we will add functionality to Lab-on-a-chip type devices, thus taking them a step closer to real applications. We will reach this aim by developing the concept of an integrated optical trap that we have demonstrated recently. The trap will be made more versatile by increasing its power output and by using beamshaping to increase the intensity in the optical trap, thus being able to control a large number of different cell types. An optical chromatography device that offers the fast and simple fractionation of a cell population will be developed, with integrated separation channels that are optically addressed. Realising circuits at other wavelengths, namely 780 nm for Raman spectroscopy and 635 as well as 410 nm for fluorescence excitation, will highlight the potential of the integrated trap concept further.


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Scullion MG (2013) Slotted photonic crystal sensors. in Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)

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Ploschner M (2012) Bidirectional optical sorting of gold nanoparticles. in Nano letters

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Fischer M (2015) Optical Sensing of Microbial Life on Surfaces. in Applied and environmental microbiology

Description The project has laid the foundation for our nanoscale biosensor work that is now being developed further, in collaboration with biologists, medical researchers and clinicians, for tackling societal issues such as chronic wounds and antimicrobial resistance.
Exploitation Route 1. We are now actively collaborating with biomedical researchers and providing them with new tools for addressing important societal questions.
2. We are discussing with industrial collaborators of how to apply the technology to applications in disease and contamination monitoring in veterinary practise, agriculture, food & drink.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Healthcare

Description EPSRC
Amount £376,285 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/G029733/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2009 
End 11/2012