ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, vol.78, no.16, pp.5868-5875, 2006 (SCI-Expanded)
A new "grafting from" strategy based on surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) was first used for the preparation of a polymer-based ion-exchange support for HPLC. The most important property of the proposed method is to be applicable for the synthesis of any type of ion exchanger in both the strong and the weak forms. Monodisperse, porous poly(glycidyl methacrylate-co-ethylene dimethacrylate), poly(GMA-co-EDM) particles 5.8 mu m in size were synthesized by "modified seeded polymerization". Poly(dihydroxypropyl methacrylate-co-ethylene dimethacrylate), poly(DHPM-co-EDM) particles were then obtained by the acidic hydrolysis of poly(GMA-co-EDM) particles. The ATRP initiator, 3-(2-bromoisobutyramido)propyl(triethoxy)silane was covalently attached onto poly(DHPM-co-EDM) particles via the reaction between triethoxysilane and diol groups. In the next stage, the selected monomer carrying strong cation exchanger groups, 3- sulfopropyl methacrylate (SPM), was polymerized on the initiator-immobilized particles via surface-initiated ATRP. The degree of polymerization of SPM (i.e., length of polyionic ligand) on the particles was precisely controlled by adjusting ATRP conditions. Poly(SPM)grafted poly(DHPM-co-EDM) particles obtained with different ATRP formulations were tried as chromatographic packing in the separation of proteins by ion-exchange chromatography. The proteins were successfully separated with higher column yields with respect to the previously proposed materials. The plate heights between 100 and 150 mu m were achieved with the column packed with the particles carrying the shortest poly(SPM) chains. The plate height showed no significant increase with increasing flow rate in the range of 0.5-16 cm/min.