Microfluidic devices have undergone rapid development in recent years and provide a lab-on-a-chip solution for many biomedical and chemical applications. Optical imaging techniques are essential in microfluidics for observing and extracting information from biological or chemical samples. Traditionally, imaging in microfluidics is achieved by bench-top conventional microscopes or other bulky imaging systems. More recently, many novel compact microscopic techniques have been developed to provide a low-cost and portable solution. In this review, we provide an overview of optical imaging techniques used in microfluidics followed with their applications. We first discuss bulky imaging systems including microscopes and interferometer-based techniques, then we focus on compact imaging systems that can be better integrated with microfluidic devices, including digital in-line holography and scanning-based imaging techniques. The applications in biomedicine or chemistry are also discussed along with the specific imaging techniques.
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