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J Chromatogr A. 2002 Aug 2;965(1-2):93-107.

Predicting the behaviour of polydisperse polymers in liquid chromatography under isocratic and gradient conditions.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In this paper we describe how the existing theories to describe retention and peak width in isocratic and gradient-elution liquid chromatography can be expanded to describe the retention behaviour of natural and synthetic repetitive polymers, which feature distributions of molecules with different masses (and often different structures) rather than unambiguous molecular formulas. For polydisperse samples, it is vital that the model accommodates (isocratic) elution of sample components before the onset of a gradient, elution during the gradient, and elution after the completion of the gradient. The expanded models can readily be implemented in standard spreadsheet software, such as Excel. We have created such spreadsheets based on the conventional model for retention in reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) and on two different models for retention in normal-phase liquid chromatography. The implementation allows an easy visualization of the theoretical concept. Up to three different polymeric series can be entered, with a total of up to 100 peaks being computed and displayed in isocratic or gradient-elution chromatograms. Also visualized are "retention models" (diagrams of isocratic retention vs. composition) and "calibration curves" (retention or elution composition vs. molecular mass or degree of polymerization). The coefficients in the isocratic retention model may be correlated, as has often been observed in RPLC. It is shown that under certain conditions such a correlation corresponds to the existence of so-called critical (isocratic) conditions, at which all the members of a given polymeric series (same composition and end groups, different number of repeat units) show co-elution.

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