2020 Volume 9 Issue 1 Pages A0079
The Kendrick analysis is used for the processing and visualization of mass spectra obtained from polymers containing C, H, O and/or Si with simple isotopic patterns (monoisotope=lightest isotope=most intense isotope for short chains). In the case of heteroatoms with complex isotopic patterns, the impact of the chosen isotope on point alignments in Kendrick plots has not been examined extensively. Rich isotopic patterns also make the evaluation of the mass and nature of the repeating unit and end-groups more difficult from the mass spectrum in the case of unknown samples due to the number of peaks and the absence of a monoisotopic peak. Using a polybrominated polycarbonate as running example, we report that horizontal point alignments can be obtained in a Kendrick plot using the mass of the most abundant isotope instead of the monoisotopic mass as is usually done. Rotating the plot (“reverse Kendrick analysis”) helps to accurately evaluate the mass of the most abundant isotope of the repeating unit, as well as the nature of the brominated neutral expelled upon gentle heating (debromination or dehydrobromination). The whole procedure is then applied to the characterization of an unknown polybrominated flame retardant in an industrial formulation before and after heating.