Why the Renaissance in GC?

Martin Perkins

28th May 2014

This slide from the Riva Symposium Why the Renaissance in GC? prompted this blog post.

Andrew Golby and I attended the 38th International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography in Riva del Garda, Italy last week. It was a great meeting that provoked a lot of interesting new thoughts and ideas. I will be blogging about some of these over the next couple of weeks.

I was struck by one slide in particular; answering the question:  why is GC back in favour?

Since my photo is not of the best quality, I will reproduce the text here:

Why the Renaissance in GC?
1) Miniaturization
2) Advent and Commercialization of Effective, Efficient Comprehensive GCxGC
3) Advent of the 1st New Class of Stationary Phase in 40 Years – Ionic Liquids
4) Availability of Statistical Methods to Efficiently Obtain and Treat Data
5) Growing Necessity to Analyze Complex Samples (Metabolomics, Nutritional, Petro, Environmental etc.*

These are all interesting and valid reasons that make GC-MS of more value to analysts, especially those working in the life sciences arena.

Personally, I would add a few more factors to this list.

  1. Continual improvements in GC-MS sensitivity and signal to noise ratios have a revolutionary impact on what is possible with sample preparation automation, since you can work with much smaller sized samples. Working with smaller samples also tends to make the processing quicker and more in-tune with GC-MS run times.
  2. Sample derivatisation has always been able to extend the range of gas chromatography to deal with less volatile and more polar analytes, but, when done by hand, there are significant time and cost penalties. Now many derivatisation procedures are being automated and this makes derivatisation a much more practical proposition. Which leads on to my final point…
  3. Where it can be used, GC-MS is much cheaper and easier to operate than LC-MS. There are many measurements made using LC-MS, that nowadays can be performed better by automated GC-MS.

The new class of stationary phases referred to by point 3, ionic liquid phases, are a class of tuneable, retentive, polar phases with high maximum temperatures. Attributes that nicely complement those of, the more non-polar, silicone based phases.

*Unfortunately, I failed to note the name and affiliation of the person presenting this slide. If anyone reading this can fill me in, I will update this post with that information.