Journal of chromatography. A

Continuous stationary phase gradients for planar chromatographic media.

PMID 22119610


A simple, elegant method for the formation of a continuous stationary phase gradient for use in chromatographic separations is described. Its applicability to separation science is demonstrated using thin-layer chromatography as a test case. Gradient stationary phases were formed on activated High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography (HP-TLC) plates using a newly developed methodology termed "controlled rate infusion". Specifically, the SiOH groups on the activated HP-TLC plates were reacted with 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APTEOS) in a time dependent fashion by using a programmable syringe pump to control the rate of APTEOS infusion into the deposition reservoir. The shape (profile) of the gradient was controlled by the rate of infusion and imaged by taking advantage of the concentration-dependent color formation reaction between amine groups and ninhydrin. The advantages of such gradients in optimizing the retention and separation of various components in different mixtures were illustrated using mixtures of (1) four weak acids and bases and (2) three widely used over-the-counter drugs. The separation of the individual components on the gradient stationary phase was clearly improved relative to those on either traditional normal-phase TLC plates or uniformly amine-modified TLC plates. Precise control over component retention and separation was also demonstrated by strategically modifying the steepness of the gradient.