Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 2, pp 595–604 | Cite as

Improvement of imprinting effect of ionic liquid molecularly imprinted polymers by use of a molecular crowding agent

  • Man Jia
  • Jian Yang
  • Ya Kun Sun
  • Xi Bai
  • Tao Wu
  • Zhao Sheng LiuEmail author
  • Haji Akber AisaEmail author
Research Paper


We aimed to improve the imprinting effect of ionic liquid molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) by use of a molecular crowding agent. The ionic liquid 1-vinyl-3-ethylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([VEIm][BF4]) was used as the functional monomer and aesculetin was used as the template molecule in a crowding environment, which was made up of a tetrahydrofuran solution of polystyrene. The ionic liquid MIPs that were prepared in the crowding environment displayed an enhanced imprinting effect. NMR peak shifts of active hydrogen of aesculetin suggested that interaction between the functional monomer and the template could be increased by the use of a crowding agent in the self-assembly process. The retention and selectivity of aesculetin were affected greatly by high molecular crowding, the amount of high molecular weight crowding agent, and the ratio of [VEIm][BF4] to aesculetin. The optimal MIPs were used as solid-phase extraction sorbents to extract aesculetin from Cichorium glandulosum. A calibration curve was obtained with aesculetin concentrations from 0.0005 to 0.05 mg mL−1 (correlation coefficient R 2 of 0.9999, y = 1519x + 0.0923). The limit of quantification was 0.12 μg mL−1, and the limit of detection was 0.05 μg mL−1. The absolute recovery of aesculetin was (80 ± 2)% (n = 3), and the purity of aesculetin was (92 ± 0.5)% (n = 5). As a conclusion, molecular crowding is an effective approach to obtain ionic liquid MIPs with high selectivity even in a polar solvent environment.


Molecular crowding agent Ionic liquid monomer Aesculetin Solid-phase extraction Molecularly imprinted polymer 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. U1303202), the Major Research Development Program of Xinjiang (grant no. 2016B03044-2), and the Urumqi Science and Technology Plan (Y141310027).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2017_760_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and ChemistryChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory Basis of Xinjiang Indigenous Medicinal Plants Resource Utilization, Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and ChemistryChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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