Chromatographic Analysis | Automated Sample Preparation

Chromatographic Analysis – Sample and Standard Preparation

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Chromatographic analysis

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Typical Workflows to Prepare Chromatographic Analysis Samples and Standards
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Workflow Challenges in Sample and Standard Preparation for Chromatographic Analyses

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Robotic Preparation of Standards for Chromatographic Analysis


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1. What is chromatography?

Chromatography techniques are used to separate mixtures into their constituent parts so that each part can be analyzed separately.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can be used to extract individual components from a solution. Components of a mixture separate or elute with HPLC at different times. The eluates from the HPLC column are then fed into various detectors that produce a peak on a graph relative to its concentration as it elutes from the column. The most common type of detector is an ultraviolet-visible spectrometer since most of the substances commonly studied by HPLC, especially pharmaceuticals, exhibit UV absorption.

Gas chromatography (GC) performs the same function as liquid chromatography, but it is used for volatile mixtures. The most universal detector for gas chromatography, with capabilities of both trace quantitative and definitive qualitative information, is the mass spectrometer. The flame ionization detector (FID) is the most popular detector for organic vapors.


2. What are common terms used in chromatography and what do they meaning?

Glossary of common terms in chromatography:

  • Chromatography ꟷ Analytical laboratory technique for separating a mixture into its components. The mixture is dissolved in gas or liquid, called the mobile phase, which carries it through a system (a column, a capillary tube, a plate, or a sheet) on which a material, called the stationary phase, is fixed.
  • HPLC ꟷ High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (formerly High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography)
  • UPLC ꟷ Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography
  • GC ꟷ Gas Chromatography
  • Chromatography Detector ꟷ Mass Spectrometry (detector, a mass spectrometer separates ions or molecules according to their mass-to-charge ratio)
  • MS ꟷ Mass Spectrometry (detector, a mass spectrometer separates ions or molecules according to their mass-to-charge ratio)
  • FID ꟷ Flame Ionization Detector, frequently used in GC (detection of ions formed during combustion of organic compounds in a hydrogen flame)
  • CDS ꟷ Chromatography Data System
  • Sample Preparation ꟷ Preparation of samples for any analysis (often used as a general term for all samples to be analyzed, incl. standards, blanks, etc.)
  • Standard Preparation ꟷ Preparation of calibration standards for analysis


3. What are the trends for improving chromatography?

In recent years, much time has been spent on improving analytical speed, resolution, and automation, as well as developing and improving analytical instruments. However, one of the biggest bottlenecks in the process remains sample and standard preparation. It is not uncommon that two-thirds of the analysis time is spent on this process step. Chromatographers are therefore looking for better sample preparation techniques to improve analysis speed and accuracy. They are looking for faster, more cost-effective procedures, and easy-to-use, convenient, and safer methods. Another trend is the increased use of smaller sample sizes. Speeding up or automating sample preparation can reduce analysis time and increase sample throughput while reducing sample sizes. Intelligent interfaces and clever software solutions further accelerate the process and allow error-free data processing and comprehensive report generation.


4. What is the most frequently used technique for sample preparation?

Weighing is obviously the most popular technique for any sample preparation, as almost every quantitative analysis method requires the measurement of sample weight. But many other preparation techniques are used in analytical laboratories such as dilution, filtration, pipetting, evaporation, concentration, extraction, centrifugation, dying, pH adjustment, grinding, digesting and more.


5. What is a reference standard?

Reference standards are used to identify or determine the concentration of an analyte in a sample of unknown concentration. The reference standard is prepared with a known concentration, so the unknown sample can be compared to it to determine the actual sample concentration.


6. How can I make my sample and standard preparation workflow for chromatographic analyses faster and more efficient?

The use of automation systems, like automatic powder and liquid dispensing or liquid handling systems, can greatly improve the throughput of sample and standard preparation processes.