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Fields & Applications

Three Gurus of Supercritical Fluid Chromatography

What are the main advantages offered by SFC?

Isabelle François: SFC can be used in a wide range of industries. In laboratories where organic synthesis is carried out, the medium used for synthesis is very often an apolar solvent, which can be easily injected into an SFC system. The pharmaceutical industry is significantly benefitting in this respect from this technology. Achiral SFC provides an alternative method to RPLC to search for additional impurities present in the sample, whereas enantiomers are separated by chiral SFC. Chiral separations are the niche application for SFC. SFC is even more advantageous when separations are scaled up to preparative mode. Compared with normal-phase liquid chromatography (NPLC), preparative SFC uses less solvent, produces less waste, and requires less time for fraction evaporation. The result is a greener, more cost-effective solution.

In the food industry, SFC can be used for the analysis of nutrients, vitamins, lipids and so on. In nutriceutical applications, it can aid in the search for interesting compounds, certainly when coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

In the petrochemical industry, applying a pressure gradient allows the density of the mobile phase to be increased, resulting in enhanced solvent strength, which allows the implementation of flame-ionization detection (FID).

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About the Authors

Isabelle François

Isabelle François completed her PhD in 2009 in Pat Sandra’s lab at the University of Ghent. Isabelle currently works at Waters, where she has recently become involved in the introduction and support of new technologies, using her expertise in ultra-high performance LC, SFC, comprehensive and heart-cutting two-dimensional fluid based chromatography (LC×(2)LC and SFC×LC) in combination with optical detectors and MS.


Davy Guillarme

Davy Guillarme is Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva/University of Lausanne, Geneva, Switzerland.


Eric Lesellier

Eric Lesellier is Associate Professor at the University of Paris sud (Orsay), researching at the ICOA (Institut of Organic and Analytical Chemistry, Orléans). Eric tries to better understand the behavior of compounds being carried by sub/supercritical fluid  through varied stationary phases. “Just like in Richard Fleicher’s ‘Fantastic voyage’,” he says, “I would like to be reduced in size to introduce myself into the fluid entering the column, to discreetly observe the subtle interactions”.

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