Title: Development of Molecularly imprinted polymers for chemical sensors
Author: Nadja LEIBL
This thesis proposed a rational design approach towards molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for sensing nitro-explosives. Molecularly imprinted polymers are mimicking biological molecular recognition. They have the advantage to be stable in harsh environments and can be tailored into different physical forms for interfacing with transducers. Their synthesis is based on the co-polymerization of functional and cross-linking monomers in the presence of the target analyte or, as in this thesis, with a structural analogue leading to a rigid three-dimensional polymer network with binding sites complementary to the template in size, shape and position of the functional groups. The choice of the functional monomer was carried out with a rational design approach combining molecular modelling, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and isothermal calorimetry (ITC) studies. This allows to optimize the pre-polymerization mixture in order to get strong complexation between the functional monomer and the template. The obtained results were confronted with binding studies performed on synthesized polymers. The thus designed polymer formulation was interfaced with transducer surfaces in form of nanoparticles, films and nanoparticles embedded into electro-polymerized polydopamine films. In addition to the traditional MIPs by free radical polymerization, molecularly imprinted in-situ electro-polymerized polydopamine films were investigated as an alternative approach for sensing nitro-explosives electrochemically.