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Polymers 2018, 10(10), 1130; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10101130

Functionalization of Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Microspheres for the Highly Selective Removal of Contaminants from Aqueous Solutions and the Analysis of Food-Grade Fish Samples

1
College of Materials Science and Energy Engineering, Foshan University, Foshan 528000, China
2
Guangdong Provincial Public Laboratory of Analysis and Testing Technology, China National Analytical Center (Guangzhou), Guangzhou 510070, China
3
College of Food Science and Engineering, Foshan University, Foshan 528000, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 September 2018 / Revised: 9 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
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Abstract

The proliferation of pollution in aquatic environments has become a growing concern
and calls for the development of novel adsorbents capable of selectively removing notorious and
recalcitrant pollutants from these ecosystems. Herein, a general strategy was developed for the
synthesis and functionalization of molecularly imprinted polymer microspheres (MIPs) that could
be optimized to possess a significant adsorption selectivity to an organic pollutant in aqueous
media, in addition to a high adsorption capacity. Considering that the molecular imprinting alone
was far from satisfactory to produce a high-performance MIPs-based adsorbent, further structural
engineering and surface functionalization were performed in this study. Although the more carboxyl
groups on the surfaces of the MIPs enhanced the adsorption rate and capacity toward an organic
pollutant through electrostatic interactions, they did not strengthen the adsorption selectivity in a
proportional manner. Through a systematic study, the optimized sample exhibiting both impressive
selectivity and capacity for the adsorption of the organic pollutant was found to possess a small
particle size, a high specific surface area, a large total pore volume, and an appropriate amount of
surface carboxyl groups. While the pseudo-second-order kinetic model was found to better describe
the process of the adsorption onto the surface of MIPs as compared to the pseudo-first-order kinetic
model, neither Langmuir nor Freundlich isothermal model could be used to well fit the isothermal
adsorption data. Increased temperature facilitated the adsorption of the organic pollutant onto the
MIPs, as an endothermic process. Furthermore, the optimized MIPs were also successfully employed
as a stationary phase for the fabrication of a molecularly imprinted solid phase extraction column,
with which purchased food-grade fish samples were effectively examined. View Full-Text
Keywords: molecular imprinting; molecular recognition; emulsion polymerization; MISPE column; stationary phases; adsorption selectivity molecular imprinting; molecular recognition; emulsion polymerization; MISPE column; stationary phases; adsorption selectivity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Liang, W.; Hu, H.; Zhong, W.; Zhang, M.; Ma, Y.; Guo, P.; Xin, M.; Yu, M.; Lin, H. Functionalization of Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Microspheres for the Highly Selective Removal of Contaminants from Aqueous Solutions and the Analysis of Food-Grade Fish Samples. Polymers 2018, 10, 1130.

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