Optofluidics and lab-on-chip

A lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a device that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single integrated circuit (commonly called a “chip”) of only millimeters to a few square centimeters to achieve automation and high-throughput screening. LOCs can handle extremely small fluid volumes down to less than pico-liters and can accomplish complex manipulation and analysis tasks on fluid samples. Light is an important tool for both  tasks. In fact, optical forces can move and excert stress on small objects, from the micro to the nano scale, like cells or beads.  On the other hand, light is one of the most powerful tool for analysis, from imaging to spectroscopy. The combination of microfluidic circuits and optical waveguides on the same LOC gave rise to the field of optofluidics and greatly enhanced the capabilities of this kind of devices.

Optofluidic devices find many applications in the analysis of biological samples, that are mainly liquid, but can also be applied to gaseous samples with small adaptations. This opens the way to environmental sensing applications. In addition, integration between light and gas in a confined environment enables the development of efficient nonlinear optical processes, like high-order harmonic generation, paving the way to a new generation of miniaturized sources of extreme light (from UV to X-rays).


On-going projects:

FETOPEN H2020 PROCHIP on superresolution high-throughput microscopy on chip
FETOPEN H2020 X-PIC on eXtreme ultraviolet to soft-X-ray Photonic Integrated Circuits.
PON Project TITAN on Nanotecnologie per l’immunoterapia dei tumori.


Selected publications: 

  • A.M. Ciriolo et al.,  2022 “Microfluidic devices for Quasi-Phase-Matching in high-order harmonic generation”, APL Photonics, 7, 116103; Link
  • F. Sala et al., 2020 “Highthroughput 3D imaging of single cells with light-sheet fluorescence microscopy on chip.” Biomedical Opt Express, 11(8), 4397-4407.
  • Galli et al., 2019, “Generation of deep ultraviolet sub-2 fs pulses” Optics Letters 44, 1308-1311.
  • P. Paiè et al., 2016 “Selective plane illumination microscopy on a chip.” Lab on a Chip, 16, 1556-1560.
  • P. Paiè et al., 2014 “Straightforward 3D hydrodynamic focusing in femtosecond laser fabricated Microfluidics channels.” Lab Chip, 14, 1826-1833. Link
  • Martínez Vázquez et al, “Integration of femtosecond laser written optical waveguides in a lab-on-chip”. Lab on chip, 9 (2009); Link



People involved:

Rebeca Martinez Vazquez

Francesca Bragheri

Petra Paiè

Roberto Osellame


PhD students

Pasquale Barbato

Alia Ashraf


Research units: