Advances in sol-gel based columns for capillary electrochromatography: Sol-gel open-tubular columns


  • Abdul Malik

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    1. Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA
    • Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SCA 400, Tampa, FL 33620-5250, USA Fax: 813-974-3203
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The development of sol-gel open-tubular column technology in capillary electrochromatography (CEC) is reviewed. Sol-gel column technology offers a versatile means of creating organic-inorganic hybrid stationary phases. Sol-gel column technology provides a general approach to column fabrication for microseparation techniques including CEC, and is amenable to both open-tubular and monolithic columns. Direct chemical bonding of the stationary phase to the capillary inner walls provides enhanced thermal and solvent stability to sol-gel columns. Sol-gel stationary phases inherently possess higher surface area, and thus provide an effective one-step alternative to conventional open-tubular column technology. Sol-gel column technology is applicable to both silica-based and transition metal oxide-based hybrid stationary phases, and thus, provides a great opportunity to utilize advanced material properties of a wide range of nontraditional stationary phases to achieve enhanced selectivity in analytical microseparations. A wide variety of stationary phase ligands can be chemically immobilized on the capillary inner surface using a single-step sol-gel procedure. Sol-gel chemistry can be applied to design stationary phases with desired chromatographic characteristics, including the possibility of creating columns with either a positive or a negative charge on the stationary phase surface. This provides a new tool to control electroosmotic flow (EOF) in the column. Column efficiencies on the order of half a million theoretical plates per meter have been reported for sol-gel open-tubular CEC columns. The selectivity of sol-gel stationary phases can be easily fine-tuned by adjusting the composition of the coating sol solution. Open-tubular columns have significant advantages over their packed counterparts because of the simplicity in column making and hassle-free fritless operation. Open-tubular CEC columns possess low sample capacity and low detection sensitivity. Full utilization of the analytical potential of sol-gel open-tubular columns will require a concomitant development in the area of high-sensitivity detection technology.