• Chiral resolution;
  • Cyclodextrins;
  • Analytical methods;
  • Gas chromatography


In investigations concerned with the phenomenon of molecular chirality, the use of gas chromatography for the enantiomeric analysis of stable, volatile compounds is a technique of steadily growing importance. [1] In the last three years an important breakthrough in gas-chro-matographic separation of enantiomers has been achieved by using alkylated cyclodextrins (α, β, and γ) as chiral stationary phases in high-resolution capillary columns. In academic and commercial practice two different and complementary strategies have been adopted up to now. In the first, alkylated cyclodextrins are diluted with polysiloxanes and coated on glass or fused silica capillary columns. In the second, lipophilic per-n-pentylcyclodextrins and hydrophilic di-n-pentyl- and hydroxyalkylpermethylcyclodextrins are coated directly in the form of liquid phases onto suitably pretreated glass or fused silica surfaces. These techniques permit enantiomer separations not only for polar diols and alcohols, derivatized hydroxycarboxylic acids, amino acids, sugars, and alkyl halides, but also for nonpolar alkenes, cyclic saturated hydrocarbons, and metal π complexes. An important aspect for practical applications is that in many cases the enantiomers can be separated without previous derivatization. Whereas the resolution of racemates of unfunctionalized hydrocarbons is attributed to an enantioselective host–guest inclusion complex, some observations indicate that for polar guest molecules additional enantioselective interactions are also involved. The new chiral stationary phases can be used over a wide range of temperatures (25 to 250°C). The technique described is likely to become widely adopted as a simple, accurate and highly sensitive method for the enantiomeric analysis of chiral compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. It will also stimulate future research aimed at finding universal cyclodextrin phases and elucidating the mechanisms of enantioselectivity.