Thermal Independent Modulator for Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography

Anal Chem. 2016 Sep 6;88(17):8428-32. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b02525. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


We introduce a modulation strategy for comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) with complete thermal independence between the cooling and heating stages and without the need for GC oven heat for remobilization. Based on this approach, a compact thermal independent modulator (TiM) with thermoelectric cooling and micathermic heating has been successfully innovated for use in GC×GC. The device operates externally to a gas chromatograph, does not require liquid cryogen, and has minimal consumables requirements. The augmentation of an additional gas flow stream results in a number of critical chromatographic parameter improvements such as the decoupling of flows of first- and second-dimension columns to attain both efficiency and speed optimized flow in each dimension, the potential for independent retention time locking or scaling in either dimension, the improvement of modulator reinjection efficiency, as well as facilitating back-flushing for the first dimension to enhance system cleanliness and throughput. TiM was found to be useful for chromatographic applications over a volatility range equivalent to nC6 to nC24 under conditions used. Repeatability of retention time for model compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes were found to be quite satisfactory with relative standard deviations of less than 0.009% in (1)D and less than 0.008% in (2)D (n = 10). Typical peak widths of 120 ms or less with a relative standard deviation of less than 4.7% were achieved for the aromatic model compounds. In this article, the performance of the modulator is demonstrated and a series of challenging chromatographic applications are presented to illustrate usefulness of the apparatus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't