OptoFlow: Optical flow rate measurement for microfluidics


We aim to develop a sensor system for measuring the flow rate and characterising the water-in-oil droplets generated in a microfluidics system.  The measurements would be displayed on an LCD screen, transmitted via serial interface to a PC or other system or fed into our existing open source flow control system.  This measurement would allow for highly repeatable microfluidics experiments, since we are looking directly at the final droplets instead of upstream variables such as pressure that, even if constant, could produce different droplets or flow rates across experiments or even within one experiment.  We will use an optical mouse sensor for measuring droplet motion and further process the image on the attached Arduino to produce the final measurements.  The components are low cost and easy to assemble and program.  Optionally and additionally, we could use a high resolution open source 3D printed microscope to produce more accurate measurements for characterisation and comparison.

The Team


Tobey Wenzel, Department of Physics. 
Is an experienced open source hardware developer and documenter. He contributes expertise to the team in quantitative biology with microorganisms, optical imaging (incl. the open flexure microscope), 3d-printing, and micro-fabrication techniques.


Christie Nel, Scaturio Ltd.
Will provide embedded systems- and software engineering experience and design and program the sensor system and software algorithms.  Has experience with microfluidic flow systems.

Steven Burgess, eLife Sciences.
Has experience working on a project that used microdroplets and has an awareness of the user requirements. Member of biomakespace. Will be involved in the testing phase of the project to feed back into the design and help with dissemination of results via social media.  Experience with openscope.

Dr Tanya Hutter, Research Fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge.
Tanya has experience in developing chemical sensors, optical sensing technologies and microfluific devices. She will help with system design, assembly, results analysis and technical summary report writing.

Project Outputs

Project Report

Project report and documentation on Github


Project Proposal

Original proposal and application


Project Resources

Hardware Schematics

Bill of Materials

Software Code