Molecular Level Structure of Biodegradable Poly(Delta-Valerolactone) Obtained in the Presence of Boric Acid.Molecules. 2018 Aug 14; 23(8)M
In this study, low molecular weight poly(δ-valerolactone) (PVL) was synthesized through bulk-ring openings polymerization of δ-valerolactone with boric acid (B(OH)₃) as a catalyst and benzyl alcohol (BnOH) as an initiator. The resulting homopolymer was characterized with the aid of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS) techniques to gain further understanding of its molecular structure. The electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) spectra of poly(δ-valerolactone) showed the presence of two types of homopolyester chains-one terminated by benzyl ester and hydroxyl end groups and one with carboxyl and hydroxyl end groups. Additionally, a small amount of cyclic PVL oligomers was identified. To confirm the structure of PVL oligomers obtained, fragmentation of sodium adducts of individual polyester molecules terminated by various end groups was explored in ESI-MSn by using collision induced dissociation (CID) techniques. The ESI-MSn analyses were conducted both in positive- and negative ion mode. The comparison of the fragmentation spectra obtained with proposed respective theoretical fragmentation pathways allowed the structure of the obtained oligomers to be established at the molecular level. Additionally, using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS), it was proven that regardless of the degree of oligomerization, the resulting PVL samples were a mixture of two types of linear PVL oligomers differing in end groups and containing just a small amount of cyclic oligomers that tended to be not visible at higher molar masses.