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Supercritical Fluid Chromatography

Liquid Chromatography

  1. Huimin Yuan1,
  2. Susan V. Olesik2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a5917

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Yuan, H. and Olesik, S. V. 2006. Supercritical Fluid Chromatography. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Merck & Co., Inc., Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, USA

  2. 2

    The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) employs fluids that are raised above their critical pressure (Pc) and critical temperature (Tc) as mobile phases. Carbon dioxide, CO2, is the supercritical fluid most commonly used as a mobile phase for SFC. It is capable of solvating mostly nonpolar analytes. Cosolvents, such as methanol and acetonitrile, are added toincrease the polarity of the analytes that can be analyzed by SFC. SFC is most commonly practiced using a normal-phase retention mechanism. In other words, the stationary phase is typically more polar than the mobile phase and the retention order is in increasing order of polarity. The advantages of SFC over liquid chromatography (LC) include higher efficiency separations and faster speed of analysis. The advantage that SFC has over gas chromatography (GC) is that SFC can efficiently separate thermally labile compounds. The disadvantage of SFC is that the polarity of the mobile phase is limited. Highly polar solutes are not soluble in supercritical fluids, even when modifiers are added. SFC is commonly used to separate petroleum distillates and by-products, moderately polar pesticides and herbicides, and more recently for the separation of chiral compounds, such as pharmaceutical drugs.