Long-distance laser propulsion and deformation- monitoring of cells in optofluidic photonic crystal fiber



We introduce a unique method for laser-propelling individual cells over distances of 10s of cm through stationary liquid in a microfluidic channel. This is achieved by using liquid-filled hollow-core photonic crystal fiber (HC-PCF). HC-PCF provides low-loss light guidance in a well-defined single mode, resulting in highly uniform optical trapping and propulsive forces in the core which at the same time acts as a microfluidic channel. Cells are trapped laterally at the center of the core, typically several microns away from the glass interface, which eliminates adherence effects and external perturbations. During propagation, the velocity of the cells is conveniently monitored using a non-imaging Doppler velocimetry technique. Dynamic changes in velocity at constant optical powers up to 350 mW indicate stress-induced changes in the shape of the cells, which is confirmed by bright-field microscopy. Our results suggest that HC-PCF will be useful as a new tool for the study of single-cell biomechanics. (© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)