An optofluidic imaging system to measure the biophysical signature of single waterborne bacteria†
In this paper, for the first time, an on-chip optofluidic imaging system is innovated to measure the biophysical signatures of single waterborne bacteria, including both their refractive indices and morphologies (size and shape), based on immersion refractometry. The key features of the proposed optofluidic imaging platform include (1) multiple sites for single-bacterium trapping, which enable parallel measurements to achieve higher throughput, and (2) a chaotic micromixer, which enables efficient refractive index variation of the surrounding medium. In the experiments, the distinctive refractive index of Echerichia coli, Shigella flexneri and Vibrio cholera are measured with a high precision of 5 × 10−3 RIU. The developed optofluidic imaging system has high potential not only for building up a database of biophysical signatures of waterborne bacteria, but also for developing single-bacterium detection in treated water that is in real-time, label-free and low cost.