A general protocol to synthesize superparamagnetic molecularly imprinted polymer particles, using a RAFT-mediated approach, is described. S- propranolol-imprinted composites were obtained by functionalizing commercially available amino-modified Fe3O4 nanoparticles with a trithiocarbonate agent and subsequently by polymerizing thin molecularly imprinted layers. Different parameters were optimized and their effect on both nanomorphology and imprinting behaviour was studied. Optimum conditions allowed the synthesis of 40 nm composite particles with a 7 nm MIP shell, exhibiting superparamagnetic properties and specific molecular recognition of S- propranolol. The possibility of fine-tuning the surface properties of the particles is demonstrated by using the “living” nature of active RAFT fragments present on the surface of the composites to further functionalize the particles with ethylene glycol methacrylate phosphate polymer brushes.
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