Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : This review provides an overview on bio- and chemosensors based on a thermal transducer platform that monitors the thermal interface resistance R th between a solid chip and the supernatant liquid. The R th parameter responds in a surprisingly strong way to molecular-scale changes at the solid–liquid interface, which can be measured thermometrically, using for instance thermocouples in combination with a controllable heat source. In 2012, the effect was first observed during on-chip denaturation experiments on complementary and mismatched DNA duplexes that differ in their melting temperature. Since then, the concept is addressed as heat-transfer method, in short HTM, and numerous applications of the basic sensing principle were identified. Functionalizing the chip with bioreceptors such as molecularly imprinted polymers makes it possible to detect neurotransmitters, inflammation markers, viruses, and environmental pollutants. In combination with aptamer-type receptors, it is also possible to detect proteins at low concentrations. Changing the receptors to surface-imprinted polymers has opened up new possibilities for quantitative bacterial detection and identification in complex matrices. In receptor-free variants, HTM was successfully used to characterize lipid vesicles and eukaryotic cells (yeast strains, cancer cell lines), the latter showing spontaneous detachment under influence of the temperature gradient inherent to HTM. We will also address modifications to the original HTM technique such as M-HTM, inverted HTM, thermal wave transport analysis TWTA, and the hot-wire principle. The article concludes with an assessment of the possibilities and current limitations of the method, together with a technological forecast.