A self-contained microfluidic-based device was designed and fabricated for in situ imaging of aqueous surfaces using vacuum techniques. The device is a hybrid between a microfluidic poly(dimethyl siloxane) block and external accessories, all portable on a small platform (10 × 8 cm2). The key feature is that a small aperture with a diameter of 2-3 μm is opened to the vacuum, which serves as a detection window for in situ imaging of aqueous surfaces. Vacuum compatibility and temperature drop due to water vaporization are the two most important challenges in this invention. Theoretical calculations and fabrication strategies are presented from multiple design aspects. In addition, results from the time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy of aqueous surfaces are presented.