A new polymer to capture nicotine molecules and analogue structures has been designed and fabricated by researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) and the Department of Chemistry, Wichita State University, USA.
The polymer contains a structure of molecular pincers designed several years ago by the US research team. Now the Polish-American collaboration has resulted in the fixation of the pincers inside a polymer. This substance is solid, so it can be used to construct chemosensors for determination of nicotine for industrial or biomedical purposes.
The polymer has a durable but reversible binding to nicotine. This would make the nicotine determinating chemosensors reusable. Besides nicotine, this polymer can also capture alkaloid produced in the metabolism of nicotine and other alkaloids often accompanying nicotine.
“The core of the polymer nicotine trap, which has been recently filed for a patent, is a metalloporphyrin derivative, a substance present, i.a., in human blood. The molecule contains a ring (a macrocycle) with a centrally located zinc atom and amide pincers attached to this ring. Nicotine binds to this polymer with its two nitrogen atoms: one binds to the zinc atom, whereas the other to the pincers. Nicotine is detected by means of a piezoelectric resonator coated by electropolymerization with a submicrometer thick polymer film. The captured nicotine increases the mass of the film resulting in a decrease in the resonant frequency of the resonator that is easy to measure. “It can be said that we are weighing a film of our polymer all throughout the experiment. Because we know the initial polymer mass and we know that the polymer selectively captures nicotine and its analogues, an increased mass of the film means that these compounds are present in solution”, explains Dr. Krzysztof Noworyta of IPC PAS.”
Future purposes for the chemosensors include, for example, the analysis of nicotine content in tobacco leaves and determination of nicotine metabolites in body fluids. The polymer can also be used in nicotine patches to help quit smoking, where it could provide a prolonged and smooth release of nicotine.
The researchers plan to develop this method further, in search of a way to create nicotine capturing polymer film possible of detecting nicotine in gases.
Press release: Polymer’s hunt for nicotine …