A calorimeter sensor apparatus is developed utilizing microcantilevered spring elements for detecting thermal changes within a sample containing biomolecules which undergo chemical and biochemical reactions. The spring element includes a bimaterial layer of chemicals on a coated region on at least one surface of the microcantilever. The chemicals generate a differential thermal stress across the surface upon reaction of the chemicals with an analyte or biomolecules within the sample due to the heat of chemical reactions in the sample placed on the coated region. The thermal stress across the spring element surface creates mechanical bending of the microcantilever. The spring element has a low thermal mass to allow detection and measuring of heat transfers associated with chemical and biochemical reactions within a sample placed on or near the coated region. A second surface may have a different material, or the second surface and body of microcantilever may be of an inert composition. The differential thermal stress between the surfaces of the microcantilever create bending of the cantilever. Deflections of the cantilever are detected by a variety of detection techniques. The microcantilever may be approximately 1 to 200 .mu.m long, approximately 1 to 50 .mu.m wide, and approximately 0.3 to 3.0 .mu.m thick. A sensitivity for detection of deflections is in the range of 0.01 nanometers. The microcantilever is extremely sensitive to thermal changes in samples as small as 30 microliters.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has certain rights in this invention pursuant to contracts numbers DE-AC05-96OR22464 and DE-AC05-84OR21400, between the U.S. Department of Energy and Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation.