• block copolymers;
  • CID;
  • collision induced dissociation;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS);
  • poly(ethylene glycol)


Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) 2000 (mPEG 2000) samples were substituted via esterification reactions to convert the hydroxyl end group of the mPEG into potential initiators for the cationic ring opening polymerization of 2-oxazolines. These substitution products were investigated by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS); in addition, detailed MALDI-TOF/TOF-collision induced dissociation (CID) MS studies were performed to introduce this method as complementary structural characterization tool allowing the detailed analysis of the prepared macromolecules. The CID of the macroinitiators revealed 1,4-hydrogen and 1,4-ethylene eliminations forming very regular fragmentation patterns which showed, depending on the end groups, different fragmentation series. Furthermore, very pronounced McLafferty + 1 rearrangements (1,5 hydrogen-transfer) of the introduced ester end groups were observed leaving the mPEG molecule as neutral acid. This incisive loss revealed the exact molar mass for each end group and, therefore, represents an important tool for end group determination of functionalized polymers.