Innovation and Partnerships Office

Optofluidics for Sensing Single Particles IB-2013-084

Imaging for

  • Medical diagnostics
  • Point-of-care applications
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Forensics


  • Ultra high sensitivity and spatial resolution with real time detection
  • Works for very high and very low concentrations
  • Can simultaneously confine light and liquid to sub-50nm regions
  • Doesn’t require highly trained personnel
  • Customizable and versatile


Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed low cost optofluidic devices that can detect, identify, and count single nanoparticles, one by one, in real time with high throughput and high spatial resolution.

A nanochannel, with lateral dimensions matched to the target nanoparticle or biomolecule size, delivers all the sample’s molecules, one by one, into the plasmonic nanoantenna hot spot to be detected and analyzed. Using one plasmonic nanoantenna instead of a large area substrate enables the optical field to be confined and focused into a nanometric spot where the optical field is strong and for which size is not limited by light diffraction. Thus all molecules are read for best accuracy and high throughput.

Berkeley Lab’s integrated device can simultaneously confine light and liquid down to sub-50nm regions. A high throughput, wafer-scale means of fabricating the device has also been developed to enable a multiple nanochannel / nanoantenna placed on the same device for improved speed.

Optofluidic devices combine microfluidics with optical excitation and / or transduction; a microchannel facilitates the delivery and control of the analyte to the area under study and allows for multiple functionalities integration. Current techniques generally use bulky equipment and require complex sample preparation and scanning methods to complete time-consuming experiments. Each approach requires someone highly trained to conduct experiments and interpret data, and some lack high throughput capabilities and versatility. The Berkeley Lab optofluidics technology overcomes these limitations.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Device proven for ultra-high sensitivity measurements including detection of zeptoliter (10-21L) volume samples and detection of a single quantum dot.

STATUS:  Patent pending.  Available for licensing or collaborative research.


Campanile Tip for Optimized Nanoscale Imaging, IB-3314

Optical Transducer for Highly Efficient Sub-15-nanometer Focusing, IB-2734