Fluorescent monomers: “bricks” that make a molecularly imprinted polymer “bright”
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Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are potent and established recognition phases in separation and enrichment applications. Because of their robustness, versatility and format adaptability, they also constitute very promising sensing phases, especially when the active sensing element is directly integrated into the MIP. Fluorescent MIPs incorporating fluorescent monomers are perhaps the best developed and most successful approach here. This article reviews the state of the art in this field, discussing the pros and cons of the use of fluorescent dye and probe derivatives as such monomers, the different molecular interaction forces for template complexation, signalling modes and a variety of related approaches that have been realized over the years, including Förster resonance energy transfer processes, covalent imprinting, postmodification attachment of fluorescent units and conjugated polymers as MIPs; other measurement schemes and sensing chemistries that use MIPs and fluorescence interrogation to solve analytical problems (fluorescent competitive assays, fluorescent analytes, etc.) are not covered here. Throughout the article, photophysical processes are discussed to facilitate understanding of the effects that can occur when one is planning for a fluorescence response to happen in a constrained polymer matrix. The article concludes with a concise assessment of the suitability of the different formats for sensor realization.
KeywordsChemical sensors Fluorescence Molecularly imprinted polymers Dyes Sol–gel
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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