Journal of chromatography. A

Improving visualization of trace components for quantification using a power law based integration approach.

PMID 30213446


In some cases, trace component analysis only requires a sensitive and high-resolution mass spectrometer. However, enantiomers must be completely separated to be differentiated with a mass spectrometer, which is highly dependent on the stationary-mobile phase composition. In case of a challenging chiral separation, instead of trying new columns for screening purpose, resolution enhancement techniques could be used to resolve partially overlapping peaks. A well-known enhancement method is the power law, which increases the linear dynamic range of each analyte and reduces excessive noise. In many cases, the peak noise can decrease significantly by applying the power law. However, the main drawback is that this approach changes relative peak areas and heights of each peak in a non-linear fashion which limits its use for quantitative purposes. In this study, a normalized power law was utilized for extracting correct area information. It is a simple (5 step) protocol that only requires Microsoft Excel, and results in enhanced visualization of trace components, especially in low signal/noise environments, and makes integration convenient and reproducible. Several difficult chiral trace component analyses were investigated, including applications pertaining to ultrafast high-throughput chromatography, enantiopurity, and peak purity analysis. For complicated cases with multiple overlapped peaks of different resolutions, a segmented normalized power law was utilized. A trace component coeluting near a dead volume peak and a trace enantiomeric component in the tail of the corresponding enantiomeric peak were virtually enhanced. As an additional tool, first and second derivatives were utilized to identify if an enantiomeric impurity is coeluting with the dominant enantiomer under overload conditions. Idiosyncrasies of the derivative test are discussed. This study shows how these simple approaches can be used for accurate quantitation, specifically for trace enantiomeric components.

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