Overload for ionized solutes in reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography
McCalley, D. V. (2006) Overload for ionized solutes in reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Analytical Chemistry, 78 (8). pp. 2532-2538. ISSN 0003-2700
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ac052098b
Overloading occurs for submicrogram quantities of ionized solutes particularly when using low ionic strength mobile phases at low pH (e.g., formic acid), even with highly inert silica RP-HPLC columns of normal dimensions. Much higher loads can produce a sharp L-shaped peak with retention above the column void volume, in line with the hypothesis that a small number of high-energy sites fill first and are rapidly overloaded, followed by a much larger number of weaker sites. However, charged acids and bases show identical overloading behavior; overloading is reduced as the mobile-phase ionic strength is increased. These findings raise questions about the physical nature of the strong sites. The rapid overloading of silica and purely polymeric phases could be explained by mutual repulsion of ionic species or their inability to fully penetrate the hydrophobic structure of the phase. However, these alternative hypotheses cannot readily explain the high total saturation capacities obtained using frontal analysis. Ion pairing with trifluoroacetic acid may reduce overload, while the effect is less important for formate or phosphate buffers. A surface layer of acetonitrile is not a prerequisite for rapid overloading, as shown by studies using purely aqueous buffers.