Fast polymer fingerprinting using flowing afterglow atmospheric pressure glow discharge mass spectrometry

Matthias C. Jecklin, Gerardo Gamez, Renato Zenobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Flowing afterglow atmospheric pressure glow discharge mass spectrometry (FA-APGD-MS) was used to interrogate different polymer species such as biopolymers, synthetic homo- and co-polymers. The main advantages of FA-APGD-MS for polymer samples include speed (<30 s per sample) and analysis at atmospheric pressures. Moreover, there are essentially no restrictions as to the kind of polymer sample that can be analyzed because FA-APGD-MS can deal with liquid and solid (soluble or insoluble) bulk polymers and granulates, irrespective of their conductivity, without requiring any sample preparation prior to analysis. We will discuss the mechanism of ion formation as well as the limitation of the accessible mass range (m/z < 500) in view of what type of information can be gained from the mass spectra obtained. Monomer units and some fragments were detected for homopolymers, e.g.cis-polyisoprene (IR), poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), which allowed identification of the polymer composition. The mass spectra obtained were further processed using principal component analysis (PCA) for a better visualization and assessing of mass-spectral reproducibility. Combination with PCA even allowed differentiation of pectin, amylopectin, and cellulose, chemically very similar polysaccharides whose characteristic differences lie in the nature of the glycosidic linkage. Finally, we were able to detect and identify phthalate plasticizers, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (BEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), present in poly(vinyl chloride)-based food wraps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1629-1636
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Fast polymer fingerprinting using flowing afterglow atmospheric pressure glow discharge mass spectrometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this