Studies of Physical Properties on the Performance of Novel Recognition Polymers

Brahmbhatt, Heli A. (2016). Studies of Physical Properties on the Performance of Novel Recognition Polymers. PhD thesis The Open University.



Selective interactions occurring between antigen and antibody have been studied intensively for developing bio-sensing platforms, however antibodies suffer from shorter shelf-life and high cost of production. Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) on the other hand have drawn huge attention as antibody analogs for their advantages over natural antibodies. Increased research undertaken in this area for over two decades has made it possible to develop MIP nanoparticles that are currently dubbed as the most suitable alternatives to natural antibodies. MIP preparation is cost-effective and also offers flexibility in developing different polymer formats by different methods. However, the resulting MIPs are found to be considerably different due to different experimental variables associated with different methods. This has been one of the biggest challenges in developing MIPs for commercial applications in spite of their excellent recognition performances shown in lab experiments.

To this end, the research undertaken in this project has been executed by performing three case studies where novel recognition polymers have been prepared in different experimental conditions and different formats. Particularly, the study of physical properties of the polymers and their influence on their analyte recognition performance is at the heart of all three case studies performed during this project.

The study presented in Chapter 3 has investigated microwave reactor led thermal polymerisation as a potential alternative method for the preparation of MIP monoliths, whereas the study presented in Chapter 4 has investigated into developing novel polymers as potential recognition materials for ToxiQuant technique which is used for mycotoxin detection. The study presented in Chapter 5 proposes a novel approach for the development of MIP nanoparticles for selective oligonucleotide recognition. The prepared polymers have been analysed for their physical properties (such as, surface area, particle size, zeta potential, cross-linking degree, pore volume, thermal stability) and analyte recognition performance. The obtained results strongly recommend that the experimental parameters used for polymerisations are well reflected in the physical make of the resulting polymers and have further consequences on their analyte recognition performance. Study of the physicochemical properties of the polymers and their underlying causes may help in developing more consistent, predictable and selective recognition polymer materials.

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