Xuan Anh TON

Title: Fiber optic chemical sensors based on molecularly imprinted polymers for the detection of mycotoxins.

Author: Xuan-Anh TON

Date: 2013

National thesis number: 2013COMP2103


  • This thesis describes the development of highly selective fiber optic sensors using molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) as recognition elements associated with fluorescence for detection. Additionally, we extended the study to the development of other MIP-based optical sensors and sensing methods. MIPs are synthetic biomimetic receptors possessing specific cavities designed for a target molecule. Produced by a templating process at the molecular level, MIPs are capable of recognizingand binding target molecules with selectivities and affinities comparable to those of natural receptors. Compared to biological recognition elements, MIPs are more stable, cheaper and easier to integrate into standard industrial fabrication processes. Hence, MIPs have become interesting alternatives to biomolecules as recognition elements for biosensing. In the first part of this thesis (Chapter 2), MIPs were synthesized by in-situ laser-induced photopolymerization in only a few seconds, as a micrometer-sized tip at the extremity of a telecommunication optical fiber. Photonic and physico-chemical parameters were optimized to tailor the properties of the polymer micro-objects. Gold nanoparticles were incorporated into the MIP microtip for signal enhancement. To prove the efficiency of the sensor, initial studies were performed with a MIP templated with N-carbobenzyloxy-L-phenylalanine (Z-L-Phe) and the fluorescent amino acid derivative dansyl-L-phenylalanine as analyte. The fluorescence was collected either externally at the tip level by an optical fiber connected to a spectrofluorimeter or by collection of the fluorescent signal re-emitted into the fiber through the second arm of a Y-shaped bifurcated fiber. The fluorescent analyte could be detected in the low nM concentrations. In order to monitor nonfluorescent analytes, a naphthalimide-based fluorescent monomer was incorporated into the MIP during its synthesis; fluorescence enhancement was observed when analyte binding occurs. Using this system, the sensor containing a MIP specific for the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), could detect and quantify this analyte at concentrations as low as 2.5 nM. The signaling MIP-based sensor was also applied to analytes of interest for food safety and biomedical applications, such as the mycotoxin citrinin and the sphingolipid, D-erythro-sphingosine-1-phosphate. In the second part of the thesis (Chapter 3), a different type of fiber optic sensor: cheap, fast and made for single-use , was developed by using 4-cm long disposable polystyrene evanescent wave optical fiber waveguides. The coating of the MIP was either performed ex-situ, by dip-coating the fiber in a suspension of MIP particles synthesized beforehand, or in-situ by evanescent-wave photopolymerization directly on the fiber. The resulting fiber optic sensor could detect 2,4-D in the low nM range and demonstrated specific and selective recognition of the herbicide over its structural analogues and other non-related carboxyl-containing analytes. Additionally, we demonstrated the versatility of the system by applying the evanescent wave fiber optic sensor to detect citrinin, a mycotoxin, by simply coating the waveguide with a MIP specific for citrinin. This type of technology could possibly be extended to detect other carboxyl-containing analytes, as long as a specific MIP for the concerned analyte is available. In parallel, the technique of evanescent-wave photopolymerization was used for the synthesis of signaling MIP microdots on continuous and nanostructured gold films. This study lays the foundations for future development of plasmonic MIP nanosensors and microchips. In the last part of the thesis (Chapter 4), an innovative sensing method, based on the use of MIPs and analysis by fluorescence polarization, was developed in order to allow the fast and directquantification of analytes in food and environmental samples.

Link: 2013COMP2103

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