Molecularly imprinted polymer sensors for detection in the gas, liquid, and vapor phase


  • This article is published in Journal of Molecular Recognition as part of the special issue on MIP2010: The Future of Molecular Imprinting, edited by David A. Spivak (Louisiana State University) and Kenneth J. Shea (University of California, Irvine).

A. L. Jenkins, ASK Incorporated, 7447 Rockawalkin Road, Hebron, MD 21830, USA.



Fast, reliable, and inexpensive analytical techniques for detection of airborne chemical warfare agents are desperately needed. Recent advances in the field of molecularly imprinted polymers have created synthetic nanomaterials that can sensitively and selectively detect these materials in aqueous environments, but thus far, they have not been demonstrated to work for detection of vapors. The imprinted polymers function by mimicking the function of biological receptors. They can provide high sensitivity and selectivity but, unlike their biological counterparts, maintain excellent thermal and mechanical stability. The traditional imprinted polymer approach is further enhanced in this work by the addition of a luminescent europium that has been introduced into the polymers to provide enhanced chemical affinity as well as a method for signal transduction to indicate the binding event. The europium in these polymers is so sensitive to the bound target; it can distinguish between species differing by a single methyl group. The imprinted polymer technology is fiber optic-based making it inexpensive and easily integratable with commercially available miniature fiber optic spectrometer technologies to provide a shoebox size device. In this work, we will describe efforts to apply these sensors for detection of airborne materials and vapors. Successful application of this technology will provide accurate low level vapor detection of chemical agents or pesticides with little to no false positives. Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.