The Next Big (or Small) Thing

The huge diversity of applications – old, new, and emerging – that must be addressed by modern liquid chromatography presents challenges and opportunities. In this double-barreled feature, we attempt to predict LC’s way forward in our leaders’ “wish list” – and profile advances in one important direction: portability.

June 2018

The Wish List: Liquid Chromatography

In this issue, we’re exploring a host of exciting advances in separation science – from miniaturized HPLC systems (here) to the evolution of sample preparation (here). But what’s the next big priority for LC development? We asked leading chromatographers what advances they would most like to see and why. Here’s what they told us…

“I’d like to see the development of columns covering all LC modes with internal diameters (ID) of 1 mm, packed with particles (porous or superficially porous) and offering, with high reproducibility, the same efficiency as columns of 3 to 4.6 mm ID. To make this wish possible, we need instrumentation that provides dead volumes able to cope with such small IDs. Not only do we need optimal mobile phase flows in the order of 50 µL/min (20 times lower compared with the 1 mL/min for 4.6 mm ID columns) for R&D purposes, but there is also no fundamental reason not to implement such columns in QA/QC (green chemistry!).”

Pat Sandra, Emeritus Professor, Organic Chemistry, Ghent University; Founder and President, Research Institute for Chromatography, Kortrijk, Belgium.

“A great deal of research is focused on improving efficiency of separation. The other important practical aspect of SPME application would be to improve background and carry-over issues, which would require understanding the sources of column contamination, as well as improvements in the design of LC components to minimize carry-over. Longer term, I’d like to see improved fundamentals and instrumentation to facilitate on-line multi-dimensional separations, including heart cutting. The miniaturization of LC systems and use of alternative pumping systems, such as electro-osmotic pumping, are also important future directions.”

Janusz Pawliszyn, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

“I would like to have a single, robust, high-resolution (UHPLC or better) universal stationary phase capable of resolving the whole spectrum of low molecular mass metabolites/small peptides (from polar ionic, polar-neutral, through mid-polar, all the way up to non-polar lipids) in a single LC-MS compatible separation, to be able to rapidly and reproducibly metabolically phenotype biological samples for metabolomics/metabonomics applications.”

Ian Wilson, Professor, Chair in Drug Metabolism and Molecular Toxicology, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, UK.