The Binding of Metal Ions to Molecularly-Imprinted Polymers

Syed Ali Ashraf, Anja Mueller, Rukshan Tharanga Perera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Imprinting polymerization is a flexible method to make resins specific for different compounds. Imprinting polymerization involves the polymerization of the resin in the presence of a template, here cadmium ions or arsenate. The template is then removed by washing, leaving specific binding sites in the resin. In water treatment, the removal of toxic metal ions is difficult due to the limited affinity of these ions to ion exchange resins. Imprinting polymerization of ion-exchange resins is used to develop resins with high capacity and some selectivity for cadmium ions or arsenate for water treatment that still function as general ion-exchange resins. A minimum binding capacity of 325 meq/g was achieved for cadmium ions. Competition experiments elucidate the type of bonds present in the imprinting complex. The capacity and bond types for the cadmium ions and arsenate were contrasted. In the case of cadmium, metal-ligand bonds provide significant specificity of binding, although significant binding also occurs to non-specific surface sites. Arsenate ions are larger than cadmium ions and can only bind via ionic and hydrogen bonds, which are weaker than metal-ligand bonds. This results in lower specificity for arsenate. Additionally, diffusion into the resin is a limiting factor due to the larger size of the arsenate ion. These data elucidate the bonds formed between metal ions and the imprinting sites as well as other parameters that increase the capacity for heavy metals and arsenate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1643-1650
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2017


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