Gas-Phase Dynamics of Collision Induced Unfolding, Collision Induced Dissociation, and Electron Transfer Dissociation-Activated Polymer Ions

  • Jean R. N. HalerEmail author
  • Philippe Massonnet
  • Johann Far
  • Victor R. de la Rosa
  • Philippe Lecomte
  • Richard Hoogenboom
  • Christine Jérôme
  • Edwin De Pauw
Research Article


Polymer characterizations are often performed using mass spectrometry (MS). Aside from MS and different tandem MS (MS/MS) techniques, ion mobility–mass spectrometry (IM-MS) has been recently added to the inventory of characterization technique. However, only few studies have focused on the reproducibility and robustness of polymer IM-MS analyses. Here, we perform collisional and electron-mediated activation of polymer ions before measuring IM drift times, collision cross-sections (CCS), or reduced ion mobilities (K0). The resulting IM behavior of different activated product ions is then compared to non-activated native intact polymer ions. First, we analyzed collision induced unfolding (CIU) of precursor ions to test the robustness of polymer ion shapes. Then, we focused on fragmentation product ions to test for shape retentions from the precursor ions: cation ejection species (CES) and product ions with m/z and charge state values identical to native intact polymer ions. The CES species are formed using both collision induced dissociation (CID) and electron transfer dissociation (ETD, formally ETnoD) experiments. Only small drift time, CCS, or K0 deviations between the activated/formed ions are observed compared to the native intact polymer ions. The polymer ion shapes seem to depend solely on their mass and charge state. The experiments were performed on three synthetic homopolymers: poly(ethoxy phosphate) (PEtP), poly(2-n-propyl-2-oxazoline) (Pn-PrOx), and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO). These results confirm the robustness of polymer ion CCSs for IM calibration, especially singly charged polymer ions. The results are also discussed in the context of polymer analyses, CCS predictions, and probing ion–drift gas interaction potentials.

Graphical Abstract


Collision induced unfolding, CIU Collision induced dissociation, CID Electron transfer dissociation, ETD Synthetic polymers Ion mobility calibration 



The authors thank the F.R.S.-FNRS for the financial support (F.R.I.A.). R.H. acknowledges financial support from FWO and Ghent University.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean R. N. Haler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philippe Massonnet
    • 1
  • Johann Far
    • 1
  • Victor R. de la Rosa
    • 2
  • Philippe Lecomte
    • 3
  • Richard Hoogenboom
    • 2
  • Christine Jérôme
    • 3
  • Edwin De Pauw
    • 1
  1. 1.Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, MolSys Research unit, Quartier AgoraUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Supramolecular Chemistry Group, Centre of Macromolecular Chemistry (CMaC), Department of Organic and Macromolecular ChemistryGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Center for Education and Research on Macromolecules, CESAM Research Unit, Quartier AgoraUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium

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