Micro-optics for microfluidic analytical applications
This critical review summarizes the developments in the integration of micro-optical elements with microfluidic platforms for facilitating detection and automation of bio-analytical applications. Micro-optical elements, made by a variety of microfabrication techniques, advantageously contribute to the performance of an analytical system, especially when the latter has microfluidic features. Indeed the easy integration of optical control and detection modules with microfluidic technology helps to bridge the gap between the macroscopic world and chip-based analysis, paving the way for automated and high-throughput applications. In our review, we start the discussion with an introduction of microfluidic systems and micro-optical components, as well as aspects of their integration. We continue with a detailed description of different microfluidic and micro-optics technologies and their applications, with an emphasis on the realization of optical waveguides and microlenses. The review continues with specific sections highlighting the advantages of integrated micro-optical components in microfluidic systems for tackling a variety of analytical problems, like cytometry, nucleic acid and protein detection, cell biology, and chemical analysis applications.