Pressure Tuning of First Dimension Columns in Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography

Anal Chem. 2016 Sep 20;88(18):9087-94. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b02017. Epub 2016 Aug 29.


The experimental approach and mechanism of pressure tuning (PT) are introduced for the first stage of a comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC × GC) separation. The PT-GC × GC system incorporates a first dimension ((1)D) coupled column ensemble comprising a pair of (1)D columns ((1)D1 and (1)D2) connected via a microfluidic splitter device, allowing variable decompression of carrier gas across each (1)D column, and a conventional (2)D narrow bore column. By variation of junction pressure between the (1)D1 and (1)D2 columns, tunable total (1)D retentions of analytes are readily derived. Separations of a standard mixture comprising a number of different chemical classes (including alkanes, monoaromatics, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and esters) and Australian tea tree oil (TTO) were studied as practical examples of the PT-GC × GC system application. This illustrated the change of analyte retention time with experimental conditions depending on void time and retention on the different columns. In addition to void time change, variation of carrier gas relative decompression in the (1)D ensemble leads to tunable contribution of the (1)D1/(1)D2 columns that changes apparent polarity and selectivity of the ensemble. The resulting changes in (1)D elution order further altered elution temperature and thus retention of each analyte on the (2)D column in temperature-programmed GC × GC. 2D orthogonality measurements were then conducted to evaluate overall separation performance under application of different (1)D junction pressure. As a result, distribution and selectivity of particular target compounds, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and oxygenated terpenes in 2D space, and thus orthogonality, could be adequately tuned. This indicates the potential of PT-GC × GC to be applicable for practical sample separation and provides a general approach to tune selectivity of target compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't