Morphology and solute diffusive permeability of thin layer of molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) change in the presence of templates, which is termed as "gate effect". To optimize morphological changes induced by the gate effect, the flexibility, density, and the amount of specific binding sites for templates of the MIP-grafted layer must be tightly controlled during radical polymerization. Living radical polymerization with "iniferter" (initiator-transfer agent-terminator) is useful tool for controlling degree of polymerization by reaction time. In this work, photoactive iniferter (benzyl dietyldithiocarbamate) was immobilized on a cellulose membrane via a silane coupler. This treated membrane was grafted with theophylline-imprinted copolymer of methacrylic acid and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate by ultraviolet irradiation. The relationship between the amount of graft copolymer, the degree of the gate effect and the time of UV irradiation was studied. The amount of grafted copolymer increase by repeating polymerization cycle. In addition, the variation of the diffusive permeability by template clearly differs to that by analogue. Therefore, these MIP membranes can discriminate two alkaloids by difference of diffusive permeability. The variation by the template or the analogue and the selectivity of the permeability depended on irradiation time. Those results indicate that synthesized MIP has a "living nature" and the gate effect is feasible to control by irradiation time. Living radical polymerization is a promising method to build sophisticated architecture of MIP membranes possessing self-controllable permeability by gate effect.
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