Detection of aspartame via microsphere-patterned and molecularly imprinted polymer arrays

Brylee David B. Tiu, Roderick B. Pernites, Sicily B. Tiu, Rigoberto C. Advincula*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


A colloidal sphere-patterned polyterthiophene thin film sensor with high binding affinity and selectivity toward aspartame was fabricated using a technique combining molecular imprinting and colloidal sphere lithography. The successful imprinting of aspartame into electropolymerized molecularly imprinted polymer generated artificial recognition sites capable of rebinding aspartame into the microporous film, which was sensitively detected using quartz crystal microbalance measurements. The resulting sensor exhibited a good linear response after exposure to aspartame concentrations ranging from 12.5 μM to 200 μM and a detection limit of ~31 μM. It also demonstrated a high selectivity toward aspartame as compared to other peptide-based analogs including alanine-phenylalanine (Ala-Phe), alanine-glutamine (Ala-Gln), glycylglycine (Gly-Gly), and arginylglycylaspartic acid (RGD). The formation of the highly ordered and micropatterned surface was induced and monitored in situ by electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance and atomic force microscopy. Analyte imprinting and removal were characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Based on molecular modeling (semi-empirical AM1 quantum calculations), the formation of a stable pre-polymerization complex due to the strong hydrogen bonding interactions between the terthiophene monomer and aspartame played a key role in the effective aspartame imprinting and detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr 20
Externally publishedYes


  • Aspartame
  • Colloidal lithography
  • Conducting polymer
  • Electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance
  • Electropolymerization
  • Molecular imprinting
  • Polythiophene
  • Quartz crystal microbalance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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