Microbubbles have been utilized as micro-pumps, micro-mixers, micro-valves, micro-robots and surface cleaners. Various generation techniques can be found in the literature, including resistive heating, hydrodynamic methods, illuminating patterned metal films and noble metal nanoparticles of Au or Ag. We present photothermal microbubble generation by irradiating nanoporous gold disk covered microfluidic channels. The size of the microbubble can be controlled by adjusting the laser power. The dynamics of both bubble growth and shrinkage are studied. The advantages of this technique are flexible bubble generation locations, long bubble lifetimes, no need for light-adsorbing dyes, high controllability over bubble size, low power consumption, etc. This technique has the potential to provide new flow control functions in microfluidic devices.