Removing the ambiguity of data processing methods: Optimizing the location of peak boundaries for accurate moment calculations


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Correspondence: Professor Georges Guiochon, Department of Chemistry, University of Tennessee, 1420 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-1600, USA


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The calculation of the first few moments of elution peaks is necessary to determine: the amount of component in the sample (peak area or zeroth moment), the retention factor (first moment), and the column efficiency (second moment). It is a time consuming and tedious task for the analyst to perform these calculations, thus data analysis is generally completed by data stations associated to modern chromatographs. However, data acquisition software is a black box which provides no information to chromatographers on how their data are treated. These results are too important to be accepted on blind faith. The location of the peak integration boundaries is most important. In this manuscript, we explore the relationships between the size of the integration area, the relative position of the peak maximum within this area, and the accuracy of the calculated moments. We found that relationships between these parameters do exist and that computers can be programmed with relatively simple routines to automatize the extraction of key peak parameters and to select acceptable integration boundaries. It was also found that the most accurate results are obtained when the S/N exceeds 200.