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J Chromatogr A. 2003 Apr 18;993(1-2):187-95.

Retention index calculation without n-alkanes--the virtual carbon number.

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  • 1Agilent Technologies GmbH, European Field Support Center, Hewlett-Packard Strasse 8, D-76337 Waldbronn, Germany.


For the fast gas chromatographic identification of separated components the retention index is still one of the most often used tools, although mass spectrometry is available in almost all analytical laboratories. For the calculation of the retention indices it is not necessary to use n-alkanes or any other homologous series. If the analyte contains some compounds, not necessarily belonging to a homologous series, with well-known retention indices those compounds can be used as index references and the index of the other compounds can be calculated as is done using n-alkanes. The only difference is that instead of the carbon number of the n-alkanes, virtual carbon numbers of the reference compounds should be used. The method of calculation, and the effect of this method of calculation on the reproducibility are discussed in this paper, and analyses of some halogenated compounds and marjoram oil are used as experimental examples.

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