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Dummy Molecularly Imprinted Polymers-Capped CdTe Quantum Dots for the Fluorescent Sensing of 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene

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journal contribution
posted on 28.08.2013, 00:00 by Shoufang Xu, Hongzhi Lu, Jinhua Li, Xingliang Song, Aixiang Wang, Lingxin Chen, Shaobo Han
Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) with trinitrophenol (TNP) as a dummy template molecule capped with CdTe quantum dots (QDs) were prepared using 3-aminopropyltriethoxy silane (APTES) as the functional monomer and tetraethoxysilane (TEOS) as the cross linker through a seed-growth method via a sol–gel process (i.e., DMIP@QDs) for the sensing of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) on the basis of electron-transfer-induced fluorescence quenching. With the presence and increase of TNT in sample solutions, a Meisenheimer complex was formed between TNT and the primary amino groups on the surface of the QDs. The energy of the QDs was transferred to the complex, resulting in the quenching of the QDs and thus decreasing the fluorescence intensity, which allowed the TNT to be sensed optically. DMIP@QDs generated a significantly reduced fluorescent intensity within less than 10 min upon binding TNT. The fluorescence-quenching fractions of the sensor presented a satisfactory linearity with TNT concentrations in the range of 0.8–30 μM, and its limit of detection could reach 0.28 μM. The sensor exhibited distinguished selectivity and a high binding affinity to TNT over its possibly competing molecules of 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), 4-nitrophenol (4-NP), phenol, and dinitrotoluene (DNT) because there are more nitro groups in TNT and therefore a stronger electron-withdrawing ability and because it has a high similarity in shape and volume to TNP. The sensor was successfully applied to determine the amount of TNT in soil samples, and the average recoveries of TNT at three spiking levels ranged from 90.3 to 97.8% with relative standard deviations below 5.12%. The results provided an effective way to develop sensors for the rapid recognition and determination of hazardous materials from complex matrices.