Laser Desorption Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry of Low Molecular Weight Polymers

R. J. Cotter, J. P. Honovich, J. K. Olthoff, R. P. Lattimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometer (LD-TOF-MS) has been used to examine a number of low molecular weight polymers. Laser desorption is provided by a high-power, moderately focused, pulsed CO2laser. A time-variable drawout pulse is used to selectively extract lower energy quasi-molecular ions, [M + K]+, and thus reduce the abundances of the fragment ions that are observed. Reliable molecular weight averages (Mn and Mw) were calculated from the [M + K]+ion relative intensities for a series of poly (ethylene glycol) and poly (propylene glycol) samples with oligomer molecular weights up to ~5000. Molecular weight averages determined for a series of poly(ethylene imine) samples were somewhat too low, however; this may be attributed to a thermal fragmentation effect. Two additional low molecular weight polymers with different structures were also qualitatively analyzed. The use of LD-TOF-MS to characterize oligomeric mixtures has been demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2996-3001
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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