Chromatography

Ion chromatography (IC) allows the determination of trace ions using low capacity high efficiency columns possessing fixed ion exchange sites. Combined with suppressed conductivity detection, IC yields parts-per-billion detection of the seven common inorganic anions (F-, Cl-, NO2-, Br-, NO3-, HPO42- and SO42-) and to a lesser extent carboxylic acids, the six common cations (Li+, Na+, NH4+, K+, Mg2+ and Ca2+) and small amines1, 2. The primary suppliers of IC instrumentation are Dionex4, Metrohm5 and Alltech6. Regardless of the supplier, an IC system appears much like an HPLC. However, there are a number of subtle but important differences. Firstly, the entire flow path (pump, injector, column, tubing and detector cell) is metal-free, typically constructed of polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Due to the alkaline nature of IC eluents, the stationary phases in IC are usually polymer-based ion exchangers. Conductivity detection provides a universal detection mode for ionic species. However, since the eluent in IC is conductive itself, it causes a large conductivity background, worsening limits of detection. To reduce this background, either low concentrations of weakly conductive eluent are used with low capacity columns (non-suppressed IC) or an eluent suppressor is added to the system between the column and the detector (suppressed IC)

 

  • Anion Exchange Chromatography
  • Cation Exchange Chromatography

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