Insight into the mechanism of transient trapping in micellar electrokinetic chromatography.

PMID 21341287


Transient trapping is a new mechanism of on-line sample concentration and separation that has recently been presented. It involves the injection of a short length of micellar solution in front of the sample, making it similar to sweeping in partial-filling MEKC. Here, we examine the mechanism of transient trapping by the use of computer simulations and compare it to sweeping in MEKC for the two analytes, sulforhodamine B and 101. The simulation results confirm the mechanism for concentration and separation originally proposed. The mechanism for concentration is similar to sweeping since the analytes are picked and accumulated by the micelles that penetrate the sample zone. The mechanism for separation is however quite unique since the concentrated analytes are trapped for a few seconds on the sample/micelle boundary before they are released as the concentration of micelle is reduced as it undergoes electromigration dispersion and the analytes separate down a micelle gradient. Simulation results suggested that a significant contribution of band broadening arises from the micelle gradient, with shallower gradients resulting in broader peaks. However, this is offset by an increase in selectivity, such that resolution was enhanced even though the peaks are broader. Transient trapping analysis with similar resolution to those obtained by sweeping MEKC could be achieved in 1/10 of the time and 1/4 of the capillary length, which results in a 2-3 times increase in sensitivity.