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Imprinting Method for Selective Mesoporous Sorbents

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryAn ORNL invention uses a unique molecular surface imprinting technique to make sorbent materials that can be tailored to target specific molecules. The mesoporous, ordered sorbents can sense, quantify, and remove toxic ions from effluents. The method offers a new class of chemical tools for industrial cleanup processes.

A major challenge facing mining and energy industries is the removal of toxic metal ions from process water or gas. The ORNL invention improves on existing technology by offering mesoporous sorbents that feature fast kinetics, high capacity, high selectivity, and molecule-specific capability. The invention can separate toxic metals from process effluents and detect and target amino acids, drugs, herbicides, and TNT in composites. Existing bulk molecular imprinting techniques have unfavorable process kinetics because the mass molecular transfer takes place through microporous channels. In addition, the cavities of conventional methods are extremely diverse, which reduces their ability to select target molecules.DescriptionThe invention entails mixing a template molecule with an ordered mesoporous substrate. In solution, the template molecule binds to a bifunctional ligand in the substrate. When treated with an acid solution, evaporated, and titrated to a neutral pH, a highly tooled mesoporous sorbent results. The invention is a generic technique and can be applied to make solid-state sorbents for any toxic ion.Benefits• Fast kinetics, high capacity, high selectivity
• Wide-range capability to recognize specific molecules
• Generic technique for making sorbents
Applications and Industries• Toxic cleanup operations
• Separation of toxic metals from process effluents, paints, and other samples
• Detection of target molecules, such as amino acids, drugs, herbicides, fertilizers, and TNT
• Separation and/or detection of substances using chromatography, imaging agents, sensors, coatings, and composites
• Noble metal recovery
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,251,280
Imprint-coating synthesis of selective functionalized ordered mesoporous sorbents for separation and sensors
The present invention relates generally to mesoporous sorbent materials having high capacity, high selectivity, fast kinetics, and molecular recognition capability. The invention also relates to a process for preparing these mesoporous substrates through molecular imprinting techniques which differ from convention techniques in that a template molecule is bound to one end of bifunctional ligands to form a complex prior to binding of the bifunctional ligands to the substrate. The present invention also relates to methods of using the mesoporous sorbent materials, for example, in the separation of toxic metals from process effluents, paints, and other samples; detection of target molecules, such as amino acids, drugs, herbicides, fertilizers, and TNT, in samples; separation and/or detection of substances using chromatography; imaging agents; sensors; coatings; and composites.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory 06/26/2001
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
UT-B ID 199800555DevelopmentAvailable10/04/201110/04/2011

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To: Jennifer Tonzello Caldwell<>