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  1. Macrocyclic poly(glycidyl phenyl ether) (pGPE) synthesized via zwitterionic ring opening polymerization is typically contaminated by chains with linear and tadpole architecture. Although mass spectrometry (MS) analysis can readily confirm the presence of the linear byproduct, due to its unique mass, it is unable to differentiate between the cyclic and tadpole structures, which are constitutional isomers produced by backbiting reactions in monomeric or dimeric chains, respectively. To overcome this problem, ultraperformance reversed-phase liquid chromatography interfaced with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-ESI-MS/MS) was employed. The separation achieved by UPLC revealed that the tadpole isomer elutes before the cyclic structure because of the increased polarity afforded by its distinctive substituents. The ratio of tadpole to cyclic species increased with the degree of polymerization, in agreement with the synthetic method used, as the potential for forming tadpole structures by backbiting is entropically favored in longer polymer chains. Once separated, the two isomers could be independently characterized by tandem mass spectrometry. The macrocyclic and tadpole species exhibit unique fragmentation patterns, including structurally diagnostic fragments for each structure.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 17, 2023
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  3. Dendrimers are globular, multi-functional, monodisperse macromolecules with perfect structure fidelity. Their architecture is composed of a series of branched polymeric arms, composed within “wedges”, that emanate from a central core. Their structure contains a high density of functional groups located at their periphery, referred to as the “outer shell”. Due to their globular structure, it is assumed that the relative “size” of a dendrimer does not fluctuate greatly between solvents. This may be due to the inability of the branched arms, or wedges, to significantly expand or collapse (comparative to analogous linear polymers) owing to steric barriers from branching, especially at higher generations. In contrast, it is expected that a linear polymer, of similar molecular weight to a dendrimer analog, would have a greater degree of size variation dependent on solvent-polymer interactions. This stems from its innate flexibility and greater conformational flexibility. For this investigation, analogous dendritic and linear bis-MPA polyesters as well as poly(caprolactone) (PCL) were analyzed using size-measuring techniques including gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and diffusion ordered spectroscopy-nuclear magnetic resonance (DOSY- 1 H NMR).
  4. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS2) has been employed to elucidate the topology and branching architecture of star-branched polyethers. The polymers were ionized by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) to positive ions and dissociated after leaving the ion source via laser-induced fragmentation. The bond scissions caused under MALDI-MS2 conditions occur preferentially near the core-branch joining points due to energetically favorable homolytic and heterolytic bond cleavages near the core and release of steric strain and/or reduction of crowding. This unique fragmentation mode detaches complete arms from the core generating fragment ion series at the expected molecular weight of each branch. The number of fragment ion distributions observed combined with their mass-to-charge ratios permit conclusive determination of the degree of branching and the corresponding branch lengths, as demonstrated for differently branched homo- and mikto-arm polyether stars synthesized via azide-alkyne click chemistry. The results of this study underscore the utility of MS2 for the characterization of branching architecture and branch lengths of (co)polymers with two or more linear chains attached to a functionalized central core.
  5. Unprecedented ionization processes developed into powerful methods have attributes highly desirable for MS and include high sensitivity, low cost, simplicity, ability to directly analyze biological and synthetic materials, potential for high throughput, automation, exceptional robustness, and wide applicability, especially in environments outside analytical laboratories. Initial matrix-assisted ionization (MAI) results showed different selectivity relative to ESI or MALDI providing information not readily obtained with current methodologies. Here, we demonstrate the first vacuum ionization source with multi-ionization capabilities on the same high-resolution API-mass spectrometer for a range of analytical problems with sensitivity in low fmol and detection limit in low amol ranges. The potential for achieving MS and MS/MS analysis speeds of ca. 4 seconds/sample in a simple low-cost fashion is demonstrated.