Optofluidic Waveguides in Teflon AF-Coated PDMS Microfluidic Channels

IEEE Photonics Technol Lett. 2009 Aug 1;21(15):1057-1059. doi: 10.1109/LPT.2009.2022276.


We report a new method for fabricating an optofluidic waveguide that is compatible with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The light path follows the microfluidic channels, an architecture that can maximize detection efficiency and make the most economic use of chip area in many lab-on-chip applications. The PDMS-based microfluidic channels are coated with Teflon amorphous fluoropolymers (Teflon AF) which has a lower refractive index (n = 1.31) than water (n = 1.33) to form a water/Teflon AF optical waveguide. Driven by a vacuum pump, the Teflon AF solution was flowed through the channels, leaving a thin (5-15 µm) layer of coating on the channel wall as the cladding layer of optical waveguides. This coating process resolves the limitations of spin-coating processes by reducing the elasticity mismatch between the Teflon AF cladding layer and the PDMS device body. We demonstrate that the resulting optofluidic waveguide confines and guides the laser light through the liquid core channel. Furthermore, the light in such a waveguide can be split when the fluid flow is split. This new method enables highly integrated biosensors such as lab-on-chip flow cytometers and micro-fabricated fluorescence-activated cell sorter with on-chip excitation.