Impact of mobile phase composition on the performance of porous polymeric monoliths in the elution of small molecules
Causon, TJ and Hilder, EF and Nischang, I, Impact of mobile phase composition on the performance of porous polymeric monoliths in the elution of small molecules, Journal of Chromatography A, 1263 pp. 108-112. ISSN 0021-9673 (2012) [Refereed Article]
The influence of mobile phase solvent composition and consequently retention factor on the chromatographic performance for a set of small molecules was studied using a commercially available poly(styrene-co-divinyl benzene) analytical scale porous polymeric monolithic column as an example. Chromatographic elution performance was studied across retention factors from close to 0 up to 100 realized for a set of structurally similar small molecules in a binary reversed-phase solvent environment of acetonitrile and water. By altering the mobile phase composition from volume fractions of acetonitrile of just 10% (v/v) to only acetonitrile it was systematically shown that gel porosity of the monolithic column plays a dominant role in modulating mass transport and the associated chromatographic efficiency in a consistent manner. Up to a sixfold difference in plate height was recorded for the most strongly retained hydrophobic solute (ethylbenzene) at a constant, low flow velocity simply by varying the amount of acetonitrile in the mobile phase. Plate height curves recorded for the set of solutes that comprise benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene as well as phenol and benzyl alcohol further demonstrate the importance of functional group content of the solute and the modulated porous gel structure on mass transport. These results highlight some important practical considerations for characterizing the chromatographic properties of any polymeric monolithic column. First, it is imperative that any chromatographic performance characterization using plate height data explicitly considers the influence of mobile phase composition, retention factor, molecular size and functional groups of the probe solute. Second, as the physicochemical conditions of the material are directly reflected in the gel porosity, a range of different mobile phase compositions, retention factors and probe-specific effects must be investigated to yield a fair appraisal of the chromatographic performance.
adsorption, efficiency, gel porosity, partition, performance characterization, retention, reversed-phase, small molecules