This is the first instalment of "Perspectives in Modern HPLC", a new column that will be published every quarter on this topic.
Here, we highlight prominent high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and related products introduced at Pittcon 2013,
as well as the previous year. A summary of technical details is provided for these new HPLC systems, modules and chromatographic
software products, and major product extensions are also presented. The focus is on innovations and unique features from a
The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) is the world's largest annual conference
and exposition on laboratory science. It is organized by The Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and Society for Analytical
Chemistry of Pittsburgh and is managed by a committee of volunteers with a small permanent staff. Pittcon 2013 was held at
the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, USA, from 17–21 March, the first time in recent memory to be held in the
northeastern United States (the last time was 1990 in New York City). Despite a trend of declining participation by exhibitor
staff in recent years, Pittcon remains the premier analytical chemistry conference, unmatched in scope or scale by any contenders.
This year, Pittcon boasted more than 18,000 attendees from industry, academia and government agencies from more than 90 countries.
There were more than 2000 technical sessions, including plenary lectures and invited, contributed and award symposia; workshops;
posters and networking sessions; ~90 short courses; and a huge exposition with more than 1000 vendors displaying at ~1900
Traditionally, Pittcon is the forum for new product introductions and a "must-go-to" conference for laboratory scientists
looking for new equipment. However, the many meetings with narrower focuses such as mass spectrometry, high performance liquid
chromatography (HPLC), chiral separations and biotech applications continue to compete for attendees. More importantly, the
new information age now offers convenient alternatives for information gathering (such as Google searches, webcasts, virtual
meetings and social media). Nevertheless, the opportunities for face-to-face meetings to renew acquaintances and continuing
education from symposia or short courses still hold sufficient motivation for many in this annual pilgrimage.
Overview and Megatrends in Modern HPLC
In my opinion, the transformation from HPLC to ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) is essentially complete this
year. The revolution (or evolution) started with the proof-of-concepts research by Professor James Jorgenson in 1997 (1),
followed by the first commercial UHPLC instrument (Waters Acquity UPLC) in 2004 (2). UHPLC is becoming the standard HPLC platform
as all major manufacturers have some type of UHPLC system in their product line (3–5) with pressure limits ranging from 15,000
to 19,000 psi (1000–1250 bar). Acceptance by users is pervasive, including the very conservative quality control segment.
The dissenting voices of sceptics have disappeared. In a few years, with universal adoption of this new technology, the term
"UHPLC" may simply revert back to HPLC. It is noteworthy that Professor Jorgenson predicted faster and higher-resolution HPLC
in small-internal-diameter columns packed with very small particles with further development of equipment with higher pressure
capability (that is, 50,000 psi) (6):
Moving to still higher pressures (50,000 psi) will enable the use of smaller particles and/or longer columns, and yield faster
and better separations. This will almost certainly require the use of sub-mm bore (capillary) columns due to issues with heat
generation and dissipation. This won't be easy, but the separation potential in terms of high speed with high resolution is
Table 1 lists new HPLC product introductions (alphabetically by vendor) at Pittcon 2013 or in the prior year, followed by
descriptions and commentaries of each product, categorized as systems, modules, data systems and software.
Table 1: Summary of new HPLC product introductions at Pittcon 2013.