Title: Molecularly imprinted polymers and nano-composites by free radical and controlled/living radical polymerization: Applications in optical sensors.

Author: Marc BOMPART

Date: 2010

National thesis number: 2010COMP1870


  • This thesis is organized in three chapters and is based on three published papers, and two manuscripts about to be submitted. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are tailor-made synthetic receptors that are obtained by polymerization in the presence of a molecular template. The first paper describes the use of Raman spectroscopy to detect and quantify the presence of the imprinting template in single molecularly imprinted polymer microspheres. The polymers were imprinted with the Beta-blocking drugs propranolol and atenolol, and precipitation polymerization was used to obtain spherical particles. The nanoparticles were used for bulk detection whereas with micrometer-sized particles, quantitative measurements on single particles were possible. Relatively low detection limits down to 1µM have been reached for the detection of S-propranolol through bulk measurements on MIP nanoparticles. The second paper describes chemical nanosensors with a submicron core-shell composite design, based on a polymer core, a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) shell for selective analyte recognition, and an interlayer of gold nanoparticles for signal amplification. SERS measurements on single nanosensors yielded a detection limit of 10-7 M for the Beta-blocker propranolol, several orders of magnitude lower than on plain MIP spheres. These particles were also used as sensor materials with localized surface plasmon resonance measurements as the transduction method (Paper III), for the determination of the Beta-blocking drug propranolol. The sensors were used in suspension and were measured using a standard UV-Vis spectrophotometer. In order to solve general problems associated with MIPs, in particular their heterogeneity in terms of inner morphology and distribution of binding site affinities, it has been suggested to use modern methods of controlled/living radical polymerization for their synthesis. This also facilitates their generation in the form of nanomaterials, nanocomposites, and thin films, a strong recent trend in the field. The fourth paper reviews recent advances in the molecular imprinting area, with special emphasis on the use of controlled polymerization methods, their benefits, and current limitations. In the last paper, we have for the first time used a recently developed CRP method based on iodide mediated polymerization, reversible chain transfer catalyzed polymerization (RTCP), for the synthesis of MIPs. We show on the example of MIPs specific for the Beta-blocking drug propranolol that RTCP is compatible with MIP synthesis, both for the synthesis of bulk polymers and nanospheres, and that it yields polymers with the same binding capacity as the standard FRP method used for comparison. Solid-state NMR measurements revealed that the conversion of pendant vinyl groups was higher with RTCP than with polymers synthesized by FRP, in particular at higher initiator concentrations.

Link: 2010COMP1870

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