Electrospray ionization (ESI) is capable of ionizing many soluble polymers. The ESI spectra are complex because of overlap of the multiply charged ions of the oligomer distribution, causing current computer transform programs to fail. However, it is possible to determine the origin of the multiply charged ions, making it feasible to write a program designed to transform ESI polymer spectra. To assess the value of such a program for polymer analysis, isolated monodisperse methyl methacrylate (MMA) oligomers (25 and 50 repeat units) were used to determine molar signal response and propensity for fragmentation. The sum of the peak areas for the multiply charged MMA 50-mer was found to be only about 66% of the summed peak areas for the 25-mer for the same molar concentration. However, conversion of the multiply charged peak areas to the singly charged representations, with peak area compression taken into account, gave equal signal responses for the 25-and 50-mers. Signal response variations due to the tacticity of the MMA oligomers were not observed. Fragmentation of the MMA oligomers also was shown not to occur under normal ESI conditions. Therefore, transformation of the polymer spectra to the singly charged molecular ion distribution should allow accurate calculation of average molecular weights, polydispersity, end group mass, and repeat unit mass. © 1995 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
McEwen, C. N., Simonsick, W. J., Larsen, B. S., Ute, K., & Hatada, K. (1995). The fundamentals of applying electrospray ionization mass spectrometry to low mass poly(methyl methacrylate) polymers. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 6(10), 906–911. https://doi.org/10.1016/1044-0305(95)00476-T