Zeinep Kaya

Title: Controlled and localized synthesis of molecularly imprinted polymers for chemical sensors.

Author: Zeinep KAYA

Date: 2015

National thesis number: 2015COMP2220


  • Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), also referred to as plastic antibodies, are synthetic biomimetic receptors that are able to bind target molecules with similar affinity and specificity as natural receptors such as enzymes or antibodies. Indeed, MIPs are used as synthetic recognition elements in biosensors and biochips for the detection of small analytes and proteins. The molecular imprinting technique is based on the formation of specific recognition cavities in polymer matrices by a templating process at the molecular level. For sensor and biochip development, fast binding kinetics of the MIP for a rapid sensor response, the integration of the polymers with transducers, and a high sensitivity of detection are among the main challenges. In this thesis, the above issues are addressed by developing MIP/gold nanocomposites by grafting MIPs on surfaces, using dedicated techniques like atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) which is a versatile controlled radical polymerization (CRP) technique. Theses ophisticated CRP techniques, are able to greatly improve the polymeric materials. The use of ATRP in the MIP field has been limited so far due to its inherent incompatibility with acidic monomers like methacrylic acid (MAA), which is by far the most widely used functional monomer. Herein, a new method is described for the MIP synthesis through photo-initiated ATRP using fac-[Ir(ppy)3] as ATRP catalyst. The synthesis is possible at room temperature and is compatible with acidic monomers. This study considerably widens the range of functional monomers and thus molecular templates that can be used when MIPs are synthesized by ATRP. The proposed method was used for fabrication of hierarchically organised nanocomposites based on MIPs and nanostructured metal surfaces containing nanoholes or nanoislands, exhibiting plasmonic effects for signal amplification. The fabrication of nanometer scale MIP coatings localized on gold surface was demonstrated. Optical transduction methods, namely Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR) and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) were exploited and shown that they hold great promise for enhancing the limit of detection in sensing of biologically relevant analytes including proteins and the drug propranolol.

Link: 2015COMP2220

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