The present paper defines the optimal extraction window (OEW) for three-phase membrane-based liquid-phase microextraction (MP-LPME) in terms of analyte polarity (log P), and anchors this to existing theories for equilibrium partitioning and kinetics. Using deep eutectic solvents (DES) as supported liquid membranes (SLM), we investigated how the OEW was affected by ionic-, hydrogen bond and π-π interactions between the SLM and analyte. Eleven basic model analytes in the range -0.4 < log P < 5.0 were extracted by MB-LPME in a 96-well format. Extraction was performed from 250 µL standard solution in 25 mM phosphate buffer (pH 7.0) into 50 µL of 10 mM HCl acceptor solution (pH 2.0) with mixtures of coumarin, camphor, DL-menthol, and thymol, with and without the ionic carrier di(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate (DEHP), as the SLM. The OEW with pure DES was in the range 2 < log P < 5, and low SLM aromaticity was favorable for the extraction of non-polar analytes. Here, extraction recoveries up to 98% were obtained. Upon addition of DEHP to the SLMs, the OEW shifted to the range -0.5 < log P < 2, and a combination of 5% DEHP and moderate aromaticity resulted in extraction recoveries up to 80% for the polar analytes. Extraction with ionic carrier was inefficient for the non-polar analytes, due to excessive trapping in the SLM. The results from our study show that LPME performs optimally in a relatively narrow log P-window of ≈ 2–3 units and that the OEW is primarily affected by ionic carrier and aromaticity.
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