It has been reported that in the molecular imprinting technique, the use of preformed oligomers instead of functional monomers increases the stability of the non-covalent interactions with the template molecule, providing a sharp gain in terms of binding properties for the resulting imprinted polymer. Based on this theory, we assumed that the delayed addition of template molecules to a polymerization mixture enhances the binding properties of the resulting polymer. To verify this hypothesis, we imprinted several mixtures of 4-vinylpyridine/ethylene dimethacrylate (1:6 mol/mol) in acetonitrile by adding diclofenac progressively later from the beginning of the polymerization process. After polymerization, the binding isotherms of imprinted and non-imprinted materials were measured in acetonitrile by partition equilibrium experiments. Binding data confirm our hypothesis, as imprinted polymers prepared by delayed addition, with delay times of 5 and 10 min, showed higher binding affinity (Keq
= 1.37 × 104
and 1.80 × 104
) than the polymer obtained in the presence of template at the beginning (Keq
= 5.30 × 103
). Similarly, an increase in the imprinting factor measured vs. the non-imprinted polymer in the binding selectivity with respect to mefenamic acid was observed. We believe that the delayed addition approach could be useful in prepar imprinted polymers with higher binding affinity and increased binding selectivity in cases of difficult imprinting polymerization.
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