Detection and characterisation of structural modifications of a hindered amine light stabiliser (HALS) directly from a polyester-based coil coating have been achieved by desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) for the first time. In situ detection is made possible by exposing the coating to an acetone vapour atmosphere prior to analysis. This is a gentle and non-destructive treatment that allows diffusion of analyte to the surface without promoting lateral migration. Using this approach a major structural modification of the HALS TINUVIN123 (bis(1-octyloxy-2,2,6,6- tetramethyl-4-piperidyl) sebacate) was discovered where one N-ether piperidine moiety (N-OC8H17) is converted to a secondary piperidine (N–H). With the use of 2-dimensional DESI-MS imaging the modification was observed to arise during high curing temperatures (ca. 260 degrees C) and under simulated physiological conditions (80 degrees C, full solar spectrum). It is proposed that the secondary piperidine derivative is a result of a highly reactive aminyl radical intermediate produced by N–O homolytic bond cleavage. The nature of the bond cleavage is also suggested by ESR spin-trapping experiments employing a-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone (PBN) in toluene at 80 degrees C. The presence of a secondary piperidine derivative in situ and the implication of N–OR competing with NO–R bond cleavage suggest an alternative pathway for generation of the nitroxyl radical—an essential requirement in anti-oxidant activity that has not previously been described for the N-ether sub-class of HALS.
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