Why development of new HPLC column technology is still alive
Stationary phase innovations rise to meet the demands of modern chromatographers
The challenges facing today’s analytical chemists are discussed in the context of modern advancements in HPLC columns. The chromatographic technology described in this article includes sub 2 µm phases, fused core particles, silica hydride materials, micro/nano LC separation systems, and mixed mode phases. Advantages and disadvantages of each technique are contrasted. No one stationary phase material can address all of the analytical problems of today; rather, each technology has its own strengths suited to particular applications and method goals. Among these goals are sensitivity requirements in fields such as metabolomics and biotechnology, enhanced selectivity/resolution, low cost, and high throughout in clinical or pharmaceutical assays.
Column chromatography has undergone unprecedented advancement in technology within the last decade. Modern liquid chromatography as we know it today with dedicated instrumentation and widespread commercial application began in the mid -1960s to 1970s (1). From about 1975–2000 however, the industry had exclusively used fully porous 5–10 µm particles in the HPLC column for most applications. In recent years though, the market has seen the commercialization of various column innovations which have challenged established conventions of what is possible with HPLC.
For the modern practicing chromatographer, important issues faced today include the need for increased sensitivity, better throughput, and lower cost. Analytical methods require lower levels of detection and faster analysis times than in the past. The field of metabolomics is an excellent example of these issues. The study of such a large number of compounds requires lengthy analyses and would benefit from time-saving innovations. Many of the studied metabolites are present in low abundance and require high sensitivity to be detected or quantitated.
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