One key challenge in the field of microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip experiments for biological or chemical applications is the remote manipulation of fluids, droplets and particles. These can be volume elements of reactants, particles coated with markers, cells or many others. Light-driven microfluidics is one way of accomplishing this challenge. In our work, we manipulated micrometre sized polystyrene beads in a microfluidic environment by inducing thermal flows. Therefore, the beads were held statically in an unstructured microfluidic chamber, containing a dyed watery solution. Inside this chamber, the beads were moved along arbitrary trajectories on a micrometre scale. The experiments were performed, using a MOEMS (micro-opto-electro-mechanical-systems)-based laser scanner with a variable focal length. This scanner system is integrated in a compact device, which is flexibly applicable to various microscope setups. The device utilizes a novel approach for varying the focal length, using an electrically tunable lens. A quasi statically driven MOEMS mirror is used for beam steering.
The combination of a tunable lens and a dual axis micromirror makes the device very compact and robust and is
capable of positioning the laser focus at any arbitrary location within a three dimensional working space. Hence, the developed device constitutes a valuable extension to manually executed microfluidic lab-on-chip experiments.