The conventional scanning confocal microscopes are bulky bench-top instruments, not appropriate for Lab-on-a-Chip functionality, where size reduction and portability are desired. In many Lab-on-a-Chip applications (e.g. molecule recognition, monitoring of cell growth, investigation of metabolic mechanisms inside the bacteria), there is a strong need to image the molecular features by non-invasive optical methods yielding high spatial resolution and tree-dimensional reconstruction capability. However, the miniaturized imaging systems offering both high resolution and imaging capability are actually not available.
The goal of the proposal is the design, fabrication and experimental validation of a miniature Scanning Confocal Optical Microscope on-chip (SCOMOC) for Lab-on-a-Chip applications. The operation of this fully integrated microscope combines the 3-D transmissive steering of VCSEL laser beam by microlens MOEMS scanners, and active signal detection, based on the use of optical feedback in the VCSEL laser cavity. Major challenge includes realization of miniaturised confocal microscope scheme and array-type integration of the microscopes on top of microfluidic network. This proposal has strong multidisciplinary aspects.
The realisation of proposal objectives requires advanced knowledge in silicon micro-machining, semiconductor lasers, optical sensing and imaging techniques, and micro-fluidics. The association of photonics and MOEMS technology should make low cost, reliable and massively parallel nano-instrumentation device, matching FP6 objectives.
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