Outlining a potential road towards more effective reverse engineering

Published on 04/12/2018

On 30 January - 1 February 2019, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) will participate in the Ninth International Symposium on the separation and characterization of natural and synthetic macromolecules (SCM-9) presenting results that outline a potential road towards more effective reverse engineering.

SCM-9 is part of the SCM series of conferences and will take place in Amsterdam (NL). As stated by the organizing team from the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit, one of the traditions of the SCM series is to have a talented researcher present, the Young-Scientist-Award Lecture (YSAL) during the opening plenary session. Based on the abstracts submitted, they selected Jessica Desport, LIST researcher who works for the Materials Characterisation and Testing Platform. Jessica will present the developments carried out in collaboration with her team mates Jerôme Bour and Gilles Frache through a talk entitled « Taming the Mass Spectrometry of High Mass Polydisperse Polymer Blends ».

Focus on a valuable and versatile technique for the characterization of polymer

Mass Spectrometry (MS) allows for an advanced characterization of polymers by addressing both size and chemical nature of a sample. Ionization of analytes is traditionally carried out by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI) or ElectroSpray Ionization (ESI), while detection is ensured by a time of flight (TOF) or an iontrap analyser. However, these techniques are restricted to the analysis of “good candidate” polymers. Indeed, high mass range, broad mass distribution as well as low ionization yield are three fundamental issues of traditional mass spectrometry applied to organic macromolecules. In that work, time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) was selected as valuable and versatile technique for the characterization of polymers.

TOF-SIMS uses a high energy primary ion beam to generate secondary ions, classically consisting of fragments from much larger species. As a result, spectra consist of a specific fragmentation pattern. TOF-SIMS has historically been an established technique for the surface characterization of inorganic materials, and was extended more recently to organic ones, including polymer samples. Still, limited attention has been given so far to the potential benefits of coupling TOF-SIMS with complementary analytical tools, and in particular chromatographic techniques. In light of this, and aiming at providing a more comprehensive avenue for polymer characterization, GPC x TOF-SIMS analysis was performed for complex high molecular weight polymer blends. GPC x TOF-SIMS coupling applied to the separation and identification of complex polymer blend components was found to be successful independently from polymer mass range, polydispersity and chemical type.

About the SCM series                                

In the context of the SCM series of conference, SCM-9 brings together scientists, who share an interest in the separation and characterization of “large” molecules. Together, scientists can interact, discuss subjects of mutual interest, and discover new synergies. SCM-9 will feature a limited number of plenary lectures by internationally renowned speakers, addressing subjects of broad interest. It also features tutorial lectures (intended to bring non-specialists up to date on important topics) and State-of-the-Art overview lectures (providing a detailed perspective). Posters are also an essential aspect of the scientific programme.

> Visit the conference website www.scm-9.nl to access the source information.

> For any further information about LIST’s expertise in this field, contact Jessica Desport or Gilles Frache.


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