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Molecular imprinting of small, poorly functionalised organic compounds

Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) have been compared to natural antibodies in that they can specifically bind target compounds in a similar way that antibodies specifically bind to an antigen. The attraction of the MIPs technology is the ease of creating binding elements which are relatively cheap compared with the process of isolating natural antibodies. In this research monoterpenes, such as α-terpineol, were chosen to be the model compounds for investigating the molecular imprinting of small, poorly functionalised organic compounds. The conventional non-covalent approach was mainly used to synthesise these MIPs, but the sacrificial-spacer semi-covalent approach was also investigated. A less widely used method, porogen-imprinting - a variant of non-covalent imprinting - was adapted for α-terpineol. The latter novel terpene MIP appeared to specifically bind α-terpineol, by hydrogen bonding, so the polymer was characterised in detail. The main parameters which were altered for preparing non-covalent MIPs included the template (α-terpineol, (-)-menthol or trans-terpin); the functional monomer (methacrylic acid, 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, bilirubin and phenol [for the semi-covalent MIP]); the cross-linking monomer (ethylene glycol dimethacrylate, divinylbenzene and trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate); and also the polymerisation method (block or precipitation polymerisation). The binding specificity and cross-reactivity for all the polymers were tested using a liquid batch-binding setup. The batch-binding setup required the detection of analyte that was not bound in order to calculate by difference the fraction of analyte bound to the polymer. Initially the terpenes were to be detected by a colorimetric method; however attempts to make the method sensitive and reliable were not successful. In comparison, gas chromatography was more reliable for the detection of terpenes and was used for the experiments presented in this thesis. 1H-NMR studies of the interaction between α-terpineol and acetic acid (as a non-polymerisable analogue of methacrylic acid) were investigated as a basis for understanding the binding to the carboxyl functional group moiety employed in many of the non-covalent MIPs that were made. The interaction between (-)-menthol and phenol was also investigated because the phenol moiety was employed in the semi-covalent MIP. Only selected MIPs, which appeared to specifically bind the template, were physically characterised. This included optimising the batch-binding parameters, scanning electron microscopy imaging, surface area and pore radius analysis and in some cases Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy of the polymers.
Type of thesis
Kueh, A. S. H. (2008). Molecular imprinting of small, poorly functionalised organic compounds (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2264
The University of Waikato
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