Selective Identification of Macrophages and Cancer Cells Based on Thermal Transport through Surface-Imprinted Polymer Layers

Kasper Eersels, Bart van Grinsven, Anitha Ethirajan, Silke Timmermans, Kathia L. Jimenez Monroy, Jeroen F. J. Bogie, Sathya Punniyakoti, Thijs Vandenryt, Jerome J. A. Hendriks, Thomas J. Cleij, Mat J.A.P. Daemen, Veerle Somers, Ward De Ceuninck, Patrick Wagner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this article, we describe a novel straightforward method for the specific identification of viable cells (macrophages and cancer cell lines MCF-7 and Jurkat) in a buffer solution. The detection of the various cell types is based on changes of the heat transfer resistance at the solid-liquid interface of a thermal sensor device induced by binding of the cells to a surface-imprinted polymer layer covering an aluminum chip. We observed that the binding of cells to the polymer layer results in a measurable increase of heat transfer resistance, meaning that the cells act as a thermally insulating layer. The detection limit was found to be on the order of 10(4) cells/mL, and mutual cross-selectivity effects between the cells and different types of imprints were carefully characterized. Finally, a rinsing method was applied, allowing for the specific detection of cancer cells with their respective imprints while the cross-selectivity toward peripheral blood mononuclear cells was negligible. The concept of the sensor platform is fast and low-cost while allowing also for repetitive measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7258-7267
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2013


  • heat transfer resistance
  • surface-imprinted polymer
  • biomimetic sensors
  • macrophages
  • NR8383
  • RAW 264.7 cell lines
  • MCF-7 cell lines
  • Jurkat cell lines

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