Evaluating the potential of thermal read-out techniques combined with molecularly imprinted polymers for the sensing of low-weight organic molecules

Bart van Grinsven, Kai Betlem, T.J. Cleij, C.E. Banks, M. Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in the papers published on synthetic recognition elements. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), also referred to as “man-made mimics” of antibodies, are able to rebind their template molecules with high affinity. Advantages compared with those of natural receptors include their excellent thermal and chemical stability, low cost, and ease of the production process. However, their use in commercial biosensors is limited owing to the difficulty to incorporate MIPs into suitable sensing platforms and traditional detection techniques, such as chromatography, that require bulky and sophisticated equipment. In this review, we evaluate the potential to use MIPs combined with thermal read-out for the detection of low-weight organic molecules. We discuss thermal methods to study MIP-template complexation and to determine neurotransmitters concentrations. In particular, we highlight the heat-transfer method, a recent technique that is straightforward and low cost and requires minimal instrumentation. Until now, sample preparation involves a 2-step process, making it time-consuming, and measuring biological samples is difficult owing to the noise in the signal. Different sample preparation methods are discussed, and it will be demonstrated how this affects the thermal response. An outlook is given in novel methods that can simplify and speed up sample preparation. Finally, we show a novel thermal technique, which is based on the analysis of transport of thermal waves rather than evaluating the fixed heat-transfer resistance. Through applying the concept of thermal waves, signal-noise ratio is significantly increased, which results in lower detection limits and has potential for the study of biological samples.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2563
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Recognition
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • biomimetic sensors
  • heat transfer
  • molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs)
  • neurotransmitters
  • thermal detection


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