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Techniques & Tools Liquid Chromatography, Sample Preparation, Forensics, Spectroscopy, Mass Spectrometry

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Sensing the Future of Chromatography

By Hans-Gerd Janssen, Science Leader, Unilever Research and Development; and Professor, van ’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

For me, chromatography is always just a temporary solution. Separation of a sample is not the goal, but the means to answer an important question. For instance: does this pill contain enough of the active pharmaceutical ingredient? Is this food product safe? One day, we will no longer separate mixtures at all, but use a sensor to answer our questions. In fact, the question is no longer if, but rather when sensors will take over from chromatography and mass spectrometry.

A massive number of articles have been published on sensors. Some sensors perform very well but, overall, the performance is inferior to that of chromatography. However, as chromatographers, we should not wait until we are overtaken by sensor scientists. We must use what they already have to improve our methods.

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About the Authors

author Hans-Gerd.Janssen

Hans-Gerd Janssen

“A chemical engineer is what I wanted to be,” says Hans-Gerd, and so, decided not to go to a “regular, dull ” university but to a University of Technology. “I then got annoyed by the approximate nature of chemical engineering.” Of special interest to Hans Gerd now are food samples. “I want to understand why certain foods are safe and of high quality whereas others are poor. Analytical chemistry, my field of work for almost 30 years now, is key to that,” he says.


Pat Sandra

Pat Sandra is Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry at Ghent University, and Founder and President of the Research Institute for Chromatography (RIC), Kortrijk, Belgium. “Through the activities of RIC, I got in touch with the real analytical needs of the industry and found we could help in providing solutions that are economically relevant. Moreover, it allowed me to keep my best PhD students around me, which resulted in high scientific output in a non-academic environment,” he says.


Apryll Stalcup

Director of the Irish Separation Science Cluster, Dublin City University, Ireland.


Gary Hieftje

Gary Hieftje

Gary Hieftje is distinguished professor and Robert & Marjorie Mann chair at the Department of Chemistry, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and School of Informatics, Indiana University Bloomington, USA. Gary’s research interests include the investigation of basic mechanisms in atomic emission, absorption, fluorescence and mass spectrometric analysis, the development of instrumentation and techniques for atomic methods of analysis, on-line computer control, the use of time-resolved luminescence processes, and the use of stochastic processes to extract basic and kinetic chemical information.


Davy Guillarme

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


Frank Bright

Henry M. Woodburn Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo, New York.

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