Hydrodynamically Tunable Optofluidic Cylindrical Microlens


Figure: Principle and design of the L-GRIN lens. (A) A schematic diagram showing the comparison between the classic refractive lens (A1) and GRIN lens (A2). Change of the refractive index contrast in GRIN lens can result in change of focal distance (A2–A3), and shift of optical axis can result in change of output light direction (A4). (B) Schematic of the L-GRIN lens design (B1), microscopic image of the L-GRIN lens in operation (B2, left), and the expected refractive index distribution at two locations (I and II) inside the lens (B2, right). High optical contrast areas (dark streaks) were observed near the fluidic boundaries (B2, left), suggesting significant variation of refractive index due to the CaCl2 diffusion. (C) Schematic drawing showing two operation modes of the L-GRIN lens: the translation mode with variable focal length including no-focusing (C1), a large focal distance (C2), and a small focal distance (C3); and the swing mode with variable output light direction (C3–C5).

We report a tunable optofluidic microlens configuration named the Liquid Gradient Refractive Index (L-GRIN) lens for focusing light within a microfluidic device. The focusing of light was achieved through the gradient refractive index (GRIN) within the liquid medium, rather than via curved refractive lens surfaces. The diffusion of solute (CaCl2) between side-by-side co-injected microfluidic laminar flows was utilized to establish a hyperbolic secant (HS) refractive index profile to focus light. Tailoring the refractive index profile by adjusting the flow conditions enables not only tuning of the focal distance (translation mode), but also shifting of the output light direction (swing mode), a second degree of freedom that to our knowledge has yet to be accomplished for in-plane tunable microlenses. Advantages of the L-GRIN lens also include a low fluid consumption rate, competitive focusing performance, and high compatibility with existing microfluidic devices. This work provides a new strategy for developing integrative tunable microlenses for a variety of lab-on-a-chip applications.

Reference: Xiaole Mao, Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Michael Ian Lapsley, Jinjie Shi, Bala Krishna Juluri, and Tony Jun Huang, Tunable Liquid Gradient Refractive Index (L-GRIN) Lens with Two Degrees of Freedom,Lab on a Chip, Vol. 9, pp. 2050-2058, 2009. [PDF]