Using ion mobility–mass spectrometry to extract physicochemical enthalpic and entropic contributions from synthetic polymers



J. R. N. Haler, J. Far, V. R. de la Rosa, C. Kune, R. Hoogenboom, and E. De Pauw


Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 330-339, 2021


Ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) experiments are mostly used hand in hand with computational chemistry to correlate mobility measurements to the shape of the ions. Recently, we developed an automatable method to fit IM data obtained with synthetic homopolymers (i.e., collision cross sections; CCS) without resorting to computational chemistry. Here, we further develop the experimental IM data interpretation to explore physicochemical properties of a series of nine polymers and their monomer units by monitoring the relationship between the CCS and the degree of polymerization (DP). Several remarkable points of the CCS evolutions as a function of the DP were found: the first observed DP of each charge state (.DPfirst DP), the DPs constituting the structural rearrangements (.DPrearr), and the DPs at the half-rearrangement (DPhalf-rearr). Given that these remarkable points do not rely on absolute CCS values, but on their relative evolution, they can be extracted from CCS or raw IM data without accurate IM calibration. Properties such as coordination numbers of the cations, steric hindrance, or side chain flexibility can be compared. This leads to fit parameter predictions based on the nature of the monomer unit. The interpretation of the fit parameters, extracted using solely experimental data, allows a rapid screening of the properties of the polymers.



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