• poly(ethylene glycol);
  • PEG 4000;
  • PEG 6000;
  • alkali metal complexation;
  • alkali metal ion selectivity;
  • matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry


The cationization of poly(ethylene glycol)s, PEG 4000 and PEG 6000, under matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization conditions was studied by using different concentration ratios of the sodium ion, as the reference ion, and another alkali metal ion (Li+, K+, Rb+, Cs+). A linear correlation was found between the intensity ratio of the sodiated PEGs and PEGs cationized with alkali metal ions versus the initial concentration ratio of sodium and alkali metal ions. The slopes of these straight lines are proposed as a novel selectivity ratio for the ionization process. The intensity distribution of the cationized PEGs was also investigated. It was found that the cationized oligomers follow Poisson statistics. The Mn and Mw values were also evaluated. An explanation for the observed effects is given. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.