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Techniques & Tools Gas Chromatography, Liquid Chromatography

Three Gurus of Comprehensive Chromatography

What techniques fall under the umbrella of “comprehensive chromatography”?

Pat Sandra: For me (by definition) comprehensive chromatography requires two-dimensional (chromatographic!) separation with on-line, full continuous development in both dimensions. Off-line fraction collection after the first dimension and analysis on a second column is, in my definition, not comprehensive, and neither are heart-cutting (for example, GC-GC) and multiple heart-cutting (for example, mLC-LC) methods.

All individual chromatographic modes combined on-line in two dimensions can be considered comprehensive. Combining phases is only possible with LC and SFC as they are both in the fluid state.

Lourdes Ramos: For years, the main (and almost exclusive) comprehensive chromatography techniques (CCTs) in use by researchers have been GC×GC and LC×LC, although the latter has been slower to develop. Several research groups have now started to explore the feasibility of alternative couplings, in particular SFC×SFC and CE×CE. Investigations are at an early stage but the promising results reported to date and the potential advantages for particular application fields (for example, SFC×SFC in oil and petrochemical research) will encourage further evaluation of these new CCTs.

Peter Tranchida: Good answers – I will only add that there have also been a few LC×GC experiments reported over the years. However, heart-cutting LC-GC appears to have a much more solid basis, and a wider past, present and (probably) future use. Apart from GC×GC and LC×LC, it is hard to make predictions on the future of other comprehensive 2D chromatography methodologies, as they are currently used in only a few research groups.

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About the Authors

Peter Tranchida

Peter Tranchida is an Associate Professor at the University of Messina, Italy. A food chemist, he has a great passion for separation science. Peter is a proponent and practitioner of multidimensional chromatography – and often adds a third, mass spectrometric, dimension. He believes these powerful methods can provide new insights into old samples, and help unravel the composition of complex food samples. “After each analysis,” Peter says, “I feel like a child opening up a Christmas present.”

Lourdes Ramos

Lourdes Ramos is a research scientist at the Department of Instrumental Analysis and Environmental Chemistry, in the Institute of Organic Chemistry (CSIC, Madrid, Spain). Her research activities include the development of new miniaturized sample preparation methods for the fast determination of organic microcontaminants in environmental and food samples, as well as the evaluation of new chromatographic techniques – especially GC×GC based approaches – for unravelling the composition of complex mixtures.

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.

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