Analysis of polymer characteristics using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Min Jung Kang, Yunseo Seong, Moon Ju Kim, Myung Soo Kim, Jae Chul Pyun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The application of mass spectrometry to polymer science has rapidly increased since the development of MALDI-TOF MS. This review summarizes current polymer analysis methods using MALDI-TOF MS, which has been extensively applied to analyze the average molecular weight of biopolymers and synthetic polymers. Polymer sequences have also been analyzed to reveal the structures and composition of monomers. In addition, the analysis of unknown end-groups and the determination of polymer concentrations are very important applications. Hyphenated techniques using MALDI-tandem MS have been used for the analysis of fragmentation patterns and end-groups, and also the combination of SEC and MALDI-TOF MS techniques is recommended for the analysis of complex polymers. Moreover, MALDI-TOF MS has been utilized for the observation of polymer degradation. Ion mobility MS, TOF-SIMS, and MALDI-TOF-imaging are also emerging technologies for polymer characterization because of their ability to automatically fractionate and localize polymer samples. The determination of polymer characteristics and their relation to the material properties is one of the most important demands for polymer scientists; the development of software and instrument for higher molecular mass range (> 100 kD) will increase the applications of MALDI-TOF MS for polymer scientists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Chemistry for Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Korean Society of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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