High-speed particle detection and tracking in microfluidic devices using event-based sensing

Jessie Howell, Tansy C. Hammarton, Yoann Altmann, Melanie Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
232 Downloads (Pure)


Visualising fluids and particles within channels is a key element of microfluidic work. Current imaging methods for particle image velocimetry often require expensive high-speed cameras with powerful illuminating sources, thus potentially limiting accessibility. This study explores for the first time the potential of an event-based camera for particle and fluid behaviour characterisation in a microfluidic system. Event-based cameras have the unique capacity to detect light intensity changes asynchronously and to record spatial and temporal information with low latency, low power and high dynamic range. Event-based cameras could consequently be relevant for detecting light intensity changes due to moving particles, chemical reactions or intake of fluorescent dyes by cells to mention a few. As a proof-of-principle, event-based sensing was tested in this work to detect 1 μm and 10 μm diameter particles flowing in a microfluidic channel for average fluid velocities of up to 1.54 m s-1. Importantly, experiments were performed by directly connecting the camera to a standard fluorescence microscope, only relying on the microscope arc lamp for illumination. We present a data processing strategy that allows particle detection and tracking in both bright-field and fluorescence imaging. Detection was achieved up to a fluid velocity of 1.54 m s-1 and tracking up to 0.4 m s-1 suggesting that event-based cameras could be a new paradigm shift in microscopic imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3024-3035
Number of pages12
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number16
Early online date17 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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