Kumar, Williams and Chuang are past Purdue doctoral students who worked with Wereley. Much of the research has been based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue's Discovery Park.
The technologies are ready for some applications, including medical diagnostics and environmental samples, Williams said.
"There are two main thrusts in applications," he said. "The first is micro- and nanomanufacturing and the second is lab-on-a-chip sensors. The latter has demonstrated biologically relevant applications in the past couple of years, and its expansion in this field is immediate and ongoing."
The technology works by first using a red laser to position a droplet on a platform specially fabricated at Purdue. Next, a highly focused infrared laser is used to heat the droplets, and then electric fields cause the heated liquid to circulate in a "microfluidic vortex." This vortex is used to isolate specific types of particles in the circulating liquid, like a micro centrifuge. Particle concentrations replicate the size, location and shape of the infrared laser pattern.
"This works very fast," Wereley said. "It takes less than a second for particles to respond and get pulled out of solution."
Systems using the hybrid optoelectric approach can be designed to precisely detect, manipulate and screen certain types of bacteria, including particular strains that render heavy metals less toxic.
"We are shooting for biological applications, such as groundwater remediation," Wereley said. "Even within the same strain of bacteria some are good at the task and some are not, and this technology makes it possible to efficiently cull those bacteria from others. The bacteria could be injected into the contaminated ground. You seed the ground with the bacteria, but first you need to
|Contact: Emil Venere|