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MALDI Investigation of Photooxidation in Aliphatic Polyesters:  Poly(butylene succinate)

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journal contribution
posted on 24.08.2004, 00:00 authored by Sabrina Carroccio, Paola Rizzarelli, Concetto Puglisi, Giorgio Montaudo
Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) has been found to be an excellent method to determine the structure of the molecules produced in the photooxidative degradation of poly(butylene succinate) (PBSu) at 60 °C in air. Over 20 compounds are present in the MALDI spectrum of the oxidized sample, as compared to only 4 in the original PBSu sample. The MALDI spectra present many new well-resolved peaks, which provide information on the structure and end groups of the oxidation products. The MALDI peaks correspond to sodiated ions of oxidized oligomers, and they have been assigned to polymer chains containing succinic and malonic acid, butyl ester, ethyl ester, and butyl formate end groups. These oligomers had not been revealed before. The mechanisms accounting for the formation of photooxidation products of PBSu involve the operation of several reactions:  (i) oxidation of hydroxyl end groups; (ii) α-H abstraction decomposition; (iii) Norrish I photocleavage. Our results establish the photooxidation mechanisms of PBSu. The novelty of our approach consists of using a nonaveraging technique, such as mass spectrometry, which allows the detection of individual compounds formed during the oxidation process. This is a remarkable result, and it should be expected that future MALDI studies might have an impact on the current views on photooxidation processes of other polymer systems.