Abstract: A surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based sensor for the determination of theophylline (THO) has been developed by imprinting the target molecules on the surface of silver nanoparticles. The desired recognition sites are generated after template removal and homogeneous distribution on the silver nanoparticles that have been incorporated within polymer matrix by the in situ reduction of theophylline-silver complexes, providing molecular recognition ability and SERS active surfaces. The theophylline molecules, complementary to the shape, size, and functionality of the recognition cavities, can selectively bind to the recognition sites at the surface of silver nanoparticles driven by the formation of hydrogen bonding and surface coordination. It has been demonstrated that the SERS signals of the theophylline molecules captured on the surface of the silver nanoparticles have a good reproducibility and a dose–response relationship to the target analytes, showing the potential for reliable identification and quantification of the bioactive compound. The molecular imprinting-based SERS sensor, like antibodies or enzymes, also possesses the ability to distinguish theophylline from the closely related structure caffeine due to the variations of molecular size and shape as well as the different affinity to silver ions.
Template and target information: theophylline, THO