A multivariate approach to investigate the NMR CPMG pulse sequence for analysing low MW species in polymers

Federica Aiello*, Jan Gerretzen, Marcel G. Simons, Antony N. Davies, Paulo Dani

*Corresponding author for this work

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Detection and quantification of low molecular weight components in polymeric samples via nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy can be difficult due to overlapping signal caused by line broadening characteristics of polymers. A way of overcoming this problem could be the exploitation of the difference in relaxation between small molecules and macromolecular species, such as the application of a T2 filter by using the Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (CPMG) spin-echo pulse sequence. This technique, largely exploited in metabolomics studies, is applied here to material sciences. A Design of Experiments approach was used for evaluating the effect of different acquisition parameters (relaxation delay, echo time and number of cycles) and sample-related ones (concentration and polymer molecular weight) on selected responses, with a particular interest in performing a reliable quantitative analysis. Polymeric samples containing small molecules were analysed by NMR with and without the application of the filter, and analysis of variance was used to identify the most influential parameters. Results indicated that increasing the polymer concentration, hence sample viscosity, further attenuates polymer signals in CPMG experiments because the T2 of those signals tends to decrease with increasing viscosity. The signal-to-noise ratio measured for small molecules can undergo a minimum loss when specific parameters are chosen in relation to the polymer molecular weight. Furthermore, the difference in dynamics between aliphatic and aromatic nuclei, as well as between mobile and stiff polymers, translates into different results in terms of polymer signal reduction, suggesting that the relaxation filter can also be used for obtaining information on the polymer structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-186
Number of pages15
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Chemistry
Issue number2
Early online date14 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sept 2020


  • H
  • CPMG
  • DoE
  • NMR
  • polyethylene glycol
  • polystyrene
  • quantitative analysis
  • spin–spin relaxation


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