AC/DC Thermal Nano-Analyzer Compatible with Bulk Liquid Measurements

Yaroslav Odarchenko, Anna Kaźmierczak-Bałata, Jerzy Bodzenta, Enrico Ferrari, Mikhail Soloviev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanocalorimetry, or thermal nano-analysis, is a powerful tool for fast thermal processing and thermodynamic analysis of materials at the nanoscale. Despite multiple reports of successful applications in the material sciences to study phase transitions in metals and polymers, thermodynamic analysis of biological systems in their natural microenvironment has not been achieved yet. Simply scaling down traditional calorimetric techniques, although beneficial for material sciences, is not always appropriate for biological objects, which cannot be removed out of their native biological environment or be miniaturized to suit instrument limitations. Thermal analysis at micro- or nano-scale immersed in bulk liquid media has not yet been possible. Here, we report an AC/DC modulated thermal nano-analyzer capable of detecting nanogram quantities of material in bulk liquids. The detection principle used in our custom-build instrument utilizes localized heat waves, which under certain conditions confine the measurement area to the surface layer of the sample in the close vicinity of the sensing element. To illustrate the sensitivity and quantitative capabilities of the instrument we used model materials with detectable phase transitions. Here, we report ca. 106 improvement in the thermal analysis sensitivity over a traditional DSC instrument. Interestingly, fundamental thermal properties of the material can be determined independently from heat flow in DC (direct current) mode, by using the AC (alternating current) component of the modulated heat in AC/DC mode. The thermal high-frequency AC modulation mode might be especially useful for investigating thermal transitions on the surface of material, because of the ability to control the depth of penetration of AC-modulated heat and hence the depth of thermal sensing. The high-frequency AC mode might potentially expand the range of applications to the surface analysis of bulk materials or liquid-solid interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022

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