Introduction: HPLC Column Technology – State of the Art

April 1, 2008
Ronald E. Majors
Special Issues

Volume 0, Issue 0

It has often been stated (or maybe overstated) that the column is the heart of the chromatograph. Without the proper choice of column and appropriate operating conditions, method development and optimization of the high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) separation can be frustrating and unrewarding experiences. Since the beginning of modern liquid chromatography, column technology has been a driving force in moving separations forward. Today, the driving forces for new column configurations and phases are the increased need for high throughput applications, for high sensitivity assays and to characterize complex samples such as peptide digests and natural products.

It has often been stated (or maybe overstated) that the column is the heart of the chromatograph. Without the proper choice of column and appropriate operating conditions, method development and optimization of the high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) separation can be frustrating and unrewarding experiences. Since the beginning of modern liquid chromatography, column technology has been a driving force in moving separations forward. Today, the driving forces for new column configurations and phases are the increased need for high throughput applications, for high sensitivity assays and to characterize complex samples such as peptide digests and natural products.

Ronald E. Majors

In the last several years, advances are still being made in column technology with smaller porous particles (1- to 2-μm in diameter), ultrahigh pressure HPLC, high temperature (up to 200 °C) columns, nano-columns with diameters under 100-μm and rapid separation columns enabling high-resolution separations in seconds. LC-on-a-Chip experimentation is now driving columns to smaller and smaller dimensions but making LC-MS interfacing even easier. Polymeric- and silica-based monoliths have seen major improvements with better reproducibility, a variety of stationary phases, and commercial availability. New particle designs such as superficially porous particles for high-speed applications have come on the scene. Improvements in applications-specific columns such as those for chiral separations, sensitive biological samples, and very polar compounds are being shown every year. The area of multidimensional LC and comprehensive LC×LC has become a reality in the tackling of complex samples.

In time for the HPLC 2008 Symposium held in Baltimore this year, I have assembled a special edition of LCGC North America to highlight the state-of-the-art in HPLC column technology. Experts and pioneers in the field of HPLC column technology from industry and academia were asked to contribute their technical knowledge. In this issue, we will have an overview of column advances in the last two years (Majors), followed by a look at high-throughput and high pressure LC (Rozing), polymeric monolithic columns (Svec and Krenkova) and silica-based monolithic columns (Cabrera), high temperature HPLC (Yang), chiral chromatography columns (Beesley), enhanced stability stationary phases (Silva and Collins), and rounded out with a treatise on hydrophilic interaction chromatography (McCalley). The contributors were asked to provide an update on the phase and column technology in their respective areas with a focus on advances made in recent years. With a defined word limit, focus was directed primarily to the most recent advances. I hope you find Recent Developments in LC Column Technology of both interest and value. Hopefully this information can be used to help solve your everyday separation problems or, at the least, give you some ideas of new columns or techniques to try out. Good reading.

Ronald E. Majors

Recent Developments in LC

Column TechnologyEditor