Optical manipulation of "drops on rails" in two dimensional microfluidic devices

C. McDougall*, E. Fradet, C. N. Baroud, D. McGloin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


When using single microfluidic droplets as isolated biological/chemical micro-reactors or arrays of droplets as 2D assaying tools, control over droplet placement is crucial to successful device implementation. Here we demonstrate a combined mechanical and optical approach to generate highly controllable arrays of droplets in pre-determined 'rails and anchors' patterns on a two-dimensional plane. The technique combines passive mechanical forcing with selective laser action. Passive mechanical forcing provides a vehicle for droplet transport and storage and laser induced optical forcing is employed for stopping, guiding or derailing droplets as they pass through the chip. In this way intelligent operations can be performed upon arrays of droplets such as sorting, merging to initiate chemical reactions or selective removal of droplets from a predefined array. The usergenerated array may then be held static against a mean flow for prolonged observation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings, Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation VIII
ISBN (Print)9780819487070
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2011
EventSPIE NanoScience + Engineering, 2011 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 21 Aug 201125 Aug 2011


ConferenceSPIE NanoScience + Engineering, 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA
OtherOptical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation VIII


  • Droplet chemistry
  • Droplet fluidics
  • Microfluidics
  • Optical manipulation
  • Patterned 2D arrays


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