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A novel thermal detection method based on molecularly imprinted nanoparticles as recognition elements

Lookup NU author(s): Ashwin Sachdeva, Professor Marloes PeetersORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2018. Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) are synthetic receptors that are able to selectively bind their target molecule and, for this reason, they are currently employed as recognition elements in sensors. In this work, MIP nanoparticles (nanoMIPs) are produced by solid-phase synthesis for a range of templates with different sizes, including a small molecule (biotin), two peptides (one derived from the epithelial growth factor receptor and vancomycin) and a protein (trypsin). NanoMIPs are then dipcoated on the surface of thermocouples that measure the temperature inside a liquid flow cell. Binding of the template to the MIP layer on the sensitive area of the thermocouple tip blocks the heat-flow from the sensor to the liquid, thereby lowering the overall temperature measured by the thermocouple. This is subsequently correlated to the concentration of the template, enabling measurement of target molecules in the low nanomolar regime. The significant improvement in the limit of detection (a magnitude of three orders compared to previously used MIP microparticles) can be attributed to their high affinity, enhanced conductivity and increased surface-to-volume ratio. It is the first time that these nanosized recognition elements are used in combination with thermal detection, and it is the first report on MIP-based thermal sensors for determining protein levels. The developed thermal sensors have a high selectivity, fast measurement time (<5 min), and data analysis is straightforward, which makes it possible to monitor biomolecules in real-time. The set of biomolecules discussed in this manuscript show that it is possible to cover a range of template molecules regardless of their size, demonstrating the general applicability of the biosensor platform. In addition, with its high commercial potential and biocompatibility of the MIP receptor layer, this is an important step towards sensing assays for diagnostic applications that can be used in vivo.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Canfarotta F, Czulak J, Betlem K, Sachdeva A, Eersels K, van Grinsven B, Cleij TJ, Peeters M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nanoscale

Year: 2018

Volume: 10

Issue: 4

Pages: 2081-2089

Online publication date: 04/01/2018

Acceptance date: 03/01/2018

Date deposited: 12/02/2018

ISSN (print): 2040-3364

ISSN (electronic): 2040-3372

Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry


DOI: 10.1039/c7nr07785h


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