A liquid thermal gradient refractive index lens and using it to trap single living cell in flowing environments
A gradient refractive index (GRIN) lens has a great potential for on-chip imaging and detection systems because of its flat surface with reduced defects. This paper reports a liquid thermal GRIN lens prepared using heat conduction between only one liquid, and uses it as a tunable optical tweezer for single living cell trapping in a flowing environment. This liquid GRIN lens consists of a trapezoidal region in the upper layer which is used to establish a GRIN profile by the heat conduction between three streams of benzyl alcohol with different temperatures, and subsequently a rhombus region in the lower layer with compensation liquids to form a steady square-law parabolic refractive index profile only in transverse direction. Simulations and experiments successfully show the real-time tunability of the focusing properties. The focal length can be modulated in the range of 500 μm with the minimum focal length of 430 μm. A considerable high enhancement factor achieves 5.4 whereas the full width at half maximum is 4 μm. The response time of the GRIN lens is about 20 ms. Based on this enhancement, tunable optical trapping for single human embryonic kidney 293 cell in the range of 280 μm is demonstrated by varying the focal length and working distance which is difficult for solid optical tweezers. The considerable quality of this liquid GRIN lens indicates on-chip applications especially in high quality optical imaging, detection and cells' handling.