Chemistry Faculty Research


Sequence Analysis of Styrenic Copolymers by Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-2-2014


Styrene and smaller molar amounts of either m-dimethylsilylstyrene (m-DMSS) or p-dimethylsilylstyrene (p-DMSS) were copolymerized under living anionic polymerization conditions, and the compositions, architectures, and sequences of the resulting copolymers were characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS2). MS analysis revealed that linear copolymer chains containing phenyl–Si(CH3)2H pendants were the major product for both DMSS comonomers. In addition, two-armed architectures with phenyl–Si(CH3)2–benzyl branches were detected as minor products. The comonomer sequence in the linear chains was established by MS2 experiments on lithiated oligomers, based on the DMSS content of fragments generated by backbone C–C bond scissions and with the help of reference MS2 spectra obtained from a polystyrene homopolymer and polystyrene end-capped with a p-DMSS block. The MS2 data provided conclusive evidence that copolymerization of styrene/DMSS mixtures leads to chains with a rather random distribution of the silylated comonomer when m-DMSS is used, but to chains with tapered block structures, with the silylated units near the initiator, when p-DMSS is used. Hence, MS2 fragmentation patterns permit not only differentiation of the sequences generated in the synthesis, but also the determination of specific comonomer locations along the polymer chain.

Publication Title

Analytical Chemistry





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