A simple approach to prepare fluorescent molecularly imprinted nanoparticles†
Fluorescent molecularly imprinted polymers (FMIPs) are gaining increasing attention in analytical and medical sciences, particularly silica-based FMIPs due to their low cost, environmentally friendly nature and good biocompatibility. However, at present, silica-based FMIPs are usually prepared through several steps and displayed low selectivity. Here, a simple approach was utilized for preparing silica-based FMIP nanoparticles. The polymerization was initiated by 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTES), which also acted as the functional monomer in the imprinting system; in addition, to achieve one-pot synthesis, a fluorescent monomer was prepared by a simple reaction between fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and APTES. The as-synthesized FMIP nanoparticles displayed high specificity and fast response time (<1 min) towards the target molecule. Environmental pH and buffer salt could affect the specific recognition behaviors of the FMIP nanoparticles. Such a simple catalyst-free synthetic technique could also be employed for the preparation of FMIP nanoparticles targeting other acidic molecules.