Submitted to: Chemistry and Industry
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Modern separation science, or chromatography, has as a major challenge the separation of complex mixtures into its individual components. This is normally performed with the use of adsorbent materials which adsorb some components to exclusion of others. Recently, new adsorbent materials have been made utilizing molecular imprinting technology. Molecular imprinting technology is a rapidly emerging field in which synthetic polymers are made in the presence of the analyte of interest or "print molecule". After polymerization, the print molecule is removed. A rigid polymer remains which contains an "imprint" of the molecule. Unlike conventional adsorbents used in chromatography which function in a relatively non- specific manner, these molecularly-imprinted polymers, or MIPs, are highly specific since they contain a pocket in which only the analyte of interest can fit. Because of this, MIPs have many useful applications in analytical chemistry. They can be used as new adsorbents for chromatography, specific receptors for sensors, catalysts, and "plastic antibodies" in techniques like immunoassays. They have been used for the analysis of sugars, amino acids, peptides, therapeutic and veterinary drugs, pesticides, and environmental contaminants. This article will review the procedures for making MIPs as well as current and future applications of this technology.