Integrated optofluidic-microfluidic twin channels: toward diverse application of lab-on-a-chip systems

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Optofluidics, which integrates microfluidics and micro-optical components, is crucial for optical sensing, fluorescence analysis, and cell detection. However, the realization of an integrated system from optofluidic manipulation and a microfluidic channel is often hampered by the lack of a universal substrate for achieving monolithic integration. In this study, we report on an integrated optofluidic-microfluidic twin channels chip fabricated by one-time exposure photolithography, in which the twin microchannels on both surfaces of the substrate were exactly aligned in the vertical direction. The twin microchannels can be controlled independently, meaning that fluids could flow through both microchannels simultaneously without interfering with each other. As representative examples, a tunable hydrogel microlens was integrated into the optofluidic channel by femtosecond laser direct writing, which responds to the salt solution concentration and could be used to detect the microstructure at different depths. The integration of such optofluidic and microfluidic channels provides an opportunity to apply optofluidic detection practically and may lead to great promise for the integration and miniaturization of Lab-on-a-Chip systems.