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Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 9, pp. 1505-1519

Synthesis and characterization of micrometer-sized molecularly imprinted spherical polymer particulates prepared via precipitation polymerization

Jinfang Wang1, Peter A. G. Cormack1, David C. Sherrington1 and Ezat Khoshdel2

1 WestCHEM, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, Thomas Graham Building, 295 Cathedral Street, Glasgow, G1 1XL, UK
2 Unilever Research, Port Sunlight, Quarry Road East, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 3JW, UK

Abstract: In this paper, the synthesis and characterization of molecularly imprinted spherical polymer particulates prepared via precipitation polymerization is described. The effects of the monomer and initiator concentrations and the solvent on the polymerizations were investigated systematically. Polymer microspheres with narrow size distributions and average diameters up to ca. 10 μm were prepared under optimized polymerization conditions. The morphologies of the microspheres were characterized by nitrogen sorption porosimetry and the molecular recognition properties of representative products evaluated in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) mode. Imprinting effects were confirmed by analyzing the relative retentions of the analytes on imprinted and non-imprinted packed HPLC columns. Finally, two different agitation/mixing methods for precipitation polymerizations were compared. It was found that the use of a low-profile roller housed inside a temperature-controlled incubator had advantages over a rotavapor-based system. Overall, this study has served to highlight the attractiveness of precipitation polymerization for the routine production of molecularly imprinted polymers in a well-defined spherical particulate form via an efficient one-step synthetic process.