In this talk I will describe our research into the use of microfluidics for enabling reconfigurability of photonic systems and matter itself. In the first of these systems it is well known that optical devices which incorporate liquids as a fundamental part of the structure can be traced at least as far back as the 18th century where rotating pools of mercury were proposed as a simple technique to create smooth mirrors for use in reflecting telescopes. The development of modern microfluidic and nanofluidic devices has enabled a present day equivalent of such devices centered on the marriage of fluidics and optics which we refer to as “Optofluidics.” I will demonstrate here the fundamental advantages of using microfluidics to create adaptable photonic materials and provide a few specific examples related to fluid based optical switches. In the second aspect I will introduce how we use microfluidics to create dynamically programmable self-assembling materials, or programmable matter. The uniqueness of the approach I will demonstrate is that it uses dynamically-switchable affinities between assembling components facilitating the assembly of irregular structures.

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