Using light to manipulate fluids has been a long-sought-after goal for lab-on-a-chip applications to address the size mismatch between bulky external fluid controllers and microfluidic devices. Yet, this goal has remained elusive due to the complexity of thermally driven fluid dynamic phenomena, and the lack of approaches that allow comprehensive multiscale and multiparameter studies. Here, we report an innovative optofluidic platform that fulfills this need by combining digital holographic microscopy with state-of-the-art thermoplasmonics, allowing us to identify the different contributions from thermophoresis, thermo-osmosis, convection, and radiation pressure. In our experiments, we demonstrate that a local thermal perturbation at the microscale can lead to mm-scale changes in both the particle and fluid dynamics, thus achieving long-range transport. Furthermore, thanks to a comprehensive parameter study involving sample geometry, temperature increase, light fluence, and size of the heat source, we showcase an integrated and reconfigurable all-optical control strategy for microfluidic devices, thereby opening new frontiers in fluid actuation technology.
Here, the authors combine digital holographic microscopy with thermoplasmonics in order to identify different contributions of thermally driven fluid dynamic phenomena. They find that local thermal perturbation leads to long-range changes in the dynamics of the system, and demonstrate an all-optical control strategy for microfluidic devices.