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Techniques & Tools Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography, Sample Preparation

Splendid Isolation

Over the past few years, several efforts have been made to obtain bioactive molecules from natural sources, but the most widespread technique for obtaining pure chemicals is organic synthesis, which plays a major role in many fields such as pharmaceutical, food, flavour and fragrances. The practice is often inefficient; in fact, sometimes kilograms, even tons of raw material are required to obtain enough pure product. And the approach certainly cannot be considered “green” because of the huge production of waste, including solvents and hazardous by-products.

Over the last century, both liquid and gas preparative chromatography appeared in analytical chemistry as a possible substitute for organic synthesis for the isolation of pure molecules. However, neither technique – and in particular, preparative gas chromatography – was seriously considered from a commercial point of view, because of the low quantities collected per run, as well as the degree of purity attained. Preparative chromatography also had other limitations: difficulty in separation of very complex samples and the low relative concentration of the components to be isolated.

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About the Author

Sebastian Pantò

Sebastiano received his Bachelors degree in Biology in 2008 from the University of Messina, followed by a Masters degree in Biology and a PhD in “Food Chemistry and Safety” with a dissertation entitled “Development of novel multidimensional chromatography technologies for the isolation and identification of targeted and untargeted food constituents”. In the same year, he started a research grant for the project PON-Hi-Life (Health Products from the Industry of Foods) and in 2015 a second one from Chromaleont s.r.l. as a gas phase scientist. In 2012, he received an award from the Interdivisional Group of Separation Sciences (GISS) for the oral presentation at the symposium “ExTech 2012”. In 2013, his work on development of a multidimensional system for the collection of pure molecules from complex samples was recognized by “The Analytical Scientist Innovation Awards (TASIAs)”. Sebastiano says, “I love challenges in my life and I cannot stay in a steady state for any more time than is absolutely necessary!”

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