Surface-imprinted polymers in microfluidic devices

Romana Schirhagl, Kangning Ren, Richard N. Zare*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Molecularly imprinted polymers are generated by curing a cross-linked polymer in the presence of a template. During the curing process, noncovalent bonds form between the polymer and the template. The interaction sites for the noncovalent bonds become "frozen" in the cross-linking polymer and maintain their shape even after the template is removed. The resulting cavities reproduce the size and shape of the template and can selectively reincorporate the template when a mixture containing it flows over the imprinted surface. In the last few decades the field of molecular imprinting has evolved from being able to selectively capture only small molecules to dealing with all kinds of samples. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) have been generated for analytes as diverse as metal ions, drug molecules, environmental pollutants, proteins and viruses to entire cells. We review here the relatively new field of surface imprinting, which creates imprints of large, biologically relevant templates. The traditional bulk imprinting, where a template is simply added to a prepolymer before curing, cannot be applied if the ana-lyte is too large to diffuse from the cured polymer. Special methods must be used to generate binding sites only on a surface. Those techniques have solved crucial problems in separation science as well as chemical and biochemical sensing. The implementation of imprinted polymers into microfluidic chips has greatly improved the applicability of microfluidics. We present the latest advances and different approaches of surface imprinting and their applications for microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-483
Number of pages15
JournalScience China Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bioanalysis
  • Microfluidic devices
  • Molecular imprinting
  • Sensors
  • Separation
  • Surface imprinting


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