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How Does High Performance Liquid Chromatography Work?
- Nov 30, 2018 -

The components of a basic high-performance liquid chromatography [HPLC] system are shown in the simple diagram in below photo.


A reservoir holds the solvent [called the mobile phase, because it moves]. A high-pressure pump [solvent delivery system or solvent manager] is used to generate and meter a specified flow rate of mobile phase, typically milliliters per minute. An injector [sample manager or autosampler] is able to introduce [inject] the sample into the continuously flowing mobile phase stream that carries the sample into the HPLC column. The column contains the chromatographic packing material needed to effect the separation. This packing material is called the stationary phase because it is held in place by the column hardware. A detector is needed to see the separated compound bands as they elute from the HPLC column [most compounds have no color, so we cannot see them with our eyes]. The mobile phase exits the detector and can be sent to waste, or collected, as desired. When the mobile phase contains a separated compound band, HPLC provides the ability to collect this fraction of the eluate containing that purified compound for further study. This is called preparative chromatography [discussed in the section on HPLC Scale].


Note that high-pressure tubing and fittings are used to interconnect the pump, injector, column, and detector components to form the conduit for the mobile phase, sample, and separated compound bands.

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