A low molecular weight predominantly polyolefin copolymer of isobutylene and para methylstyrene (IMS) was studied using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry. Average composition information derived from the spectra was skewed to higher para methylstyrene (pMS) content as compared to that obtained using multiple NMR techniques, and drifted towards lower pMS incorporation at higher oligomer lengths. Although both observations were initially attributed in total to an inability to ionize the isobutylene component, comparison with subsequent field desorption (FD) mass spectrometry results gave similar values to that obtained via MALDI, even though FD ionizes oligomers not detected by MALDI. Instead, the compositional drift observed with MALDI roughly mirrored the mass distribution, and was determined to arise from a mass bias effect in oligomer ionization and detection. Composition with respect to oligomer mass was found to be relatively constant, although similarly higher in pMS content. Comparison of experimental peaks with a Bernoullian statistical model revealed severe overrepresentation of higher pMS composition oligomers with regard to the calculated distribution. This discrepancy is attributed to preferential ionization of oligomers with greater pMS content, and likely results in the observed difference between MALDI and NMR compositions. © 2004 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
Cox, F. J., Johnston, M. V., Qian, K., & Peiffer, D. G. (2004). Compositional analysis of isobutylene/p-methylstyrene copolymers by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 15(5), 681–688. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasms.2003.12.017