Optofluidic control using photothermal nanoparticles

Gang L. Liu, Jaeyoun Kim, Y. U. Lu, Luke P. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Photothermal metallic nanoparticles have attracted significant attention owing to their energy-conversion properties1-4. Here, we introduce an optofluidic application based on a direct optical-to-hydrodynamic energy conversion using suspended photothermal nanoparticles near the liquid-air interface. Using light beams with submilliwatt power, we can drive and guide liquid flow in microfluidic channels to transport biomolecules and living cells at controlled speeds and directions. Previously, a variety of methods for controlling microscale liquid flow have been developed owing to the increasing interest for microfluidics-based biochemical analysis systems5. However, our method dispenses with the need for complex pump and valve devices6-8, surface chemistry9,10 and electrode patterning11-14, or any other further effort towards substrate fabrication15,16. Instead, our optofluidic control method will allow the fabrication of all-optical large-scale integrated microfluidic circuits for biomolecular and cellular processing without any physical valve or mechanical pumping device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalNature Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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    Liu, G. L., Kim, J., Lu, Y. U., & Lee, L. P. (2006). Optofluidic control using photothermal nanoparticles. Nature Materials, 5(1), 27-32. https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1528