Column selection considerations in compact capillary liquid chromatography

Samuel W. Foster, Elisabeth P. Gates, Paul A. Peaden, Serguei V. Calugaru, W. Raymond West, Milton L. Lee, James P. Grinias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent years have seen significant advances in compact, portable capillary LC instrumentation. This study explores the performances of several commercially available columns within the pressure and flow limits of both the columns and one of these compact LC instruments. The commercially available compact capillary LC system with UV-absorbance detector used in this study is typically operated using columns in the 0.15–0.3 mm internal diameter (i.d.) range. Efficiency measurements (i.e., theoretical plates, N) for six columns with i.d.s in this range and of varying lengths and pressure limits, packed with stationary phases of different particle diameters and morphologies, were made using a mixture of standard alkylphenones. Kinetic plot comparisons between columns that vary by one (or more) of these parameters are described, along with calculated kinetic performance and Knox-Saleem limits. These theoretical performance descriptions provide insight into optimal operating conditions when using capillary LC systems. Based on kinetic plot evaluation of available capillary columns in the 0.2–0.3 mm i.d. range with a conservative upper pressure limit of 330 bar packed with superficially porous particles, a 25 cm column could generate ∼47,000 plates in 7.85 min when operated at 2.4 µL/min. For comparison, more robust 0.3 mm i.d. columns (packed with fully porous particles) that can be operated at higher pressures than can be provided by the pumping system (conservative pump upper pressure limit of 570 bar), a ∼20 cm column could generate nearly 40,000 plates in 5.9 min if operated at 6 µL/min. Across all capillary LC columns measured, higher pressure limits and shorter columns can provide the best throughput when considering both speed and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number464067
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
StatePublished - Jul 19 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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