Accurate determination of molar mass distribution for disperse cellulose samples has proved to be a challenging task. While size-exclusion chromatography coupled to multi-angle light scattering (MALS) and differential refractive index (DRI) detectors has become the most commonly used method for molar mass determination of celluloses, this technique suffers low sensitivity at the low-molar mass range. As discussed here, the universal method for accurate molar mass distribution analysis of cellulose samples not exists and thus thorough understanding on the differences of the various methodological approaches is important. In this study, the focus is in the accurate determination of the low-molar mass fraction. The results obtained by combining the two calibration strategies, MALS/DRI for polymeric region of a cellulose sample and conventional calibration for oligomeric region, was compared to the results obtained using only MALS/DRI (with extrapolation of the curve where signal-to-noise of MALS is low). For birch pulp sample, the results from the two approaches were comparable; it should be highlighted, however, that MALS/DRI slightly overestimates the molar masses at the low-molar-mass region.
- Light-scattering detection
- Oligomeric region
- Size-exclusion chromatography