Translator for HPLC HINTS and TIPS for Chromatographers

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Method Development Hint: Use your HPLC Diode Array Detector (DAD or PDA) as a Spectrophotometer

One of the many useful features of a UV/VIS scanning diode array detector is that it can be employed in flow injection mode to scan a sample and provide you with some useful data about the absorbance characteristics of the sample (which probably contains a mixture of components). Unlike a spectrophotometer, you only need about 1 ul of sample instead of a 1ml cuvette and only 15-20 seconds of time to gather the data.

Why do this? I use this feature often when I receive a new and unfamiliar sample for method development. I set up the detector to scan and store all wavelengths, in steps of 2nm, from 210nm to 450nm and inject the sample in flow injection mode (that means no-column is present and I easily do this using the By-Pass position on my column selector). In a very short amount of time I can view the resulting spectra of the sample which aids me in selecting the initial discreet wavelengths to monitor. For example: If I notice that the sample shows some absorbance at 410nm using the flow injection run, then notice while developing the analysis method that none of the peaks seen show absorbance near 410nm, then I can assume that I may still have some components retained on the column.

Setup Hints:
(1) For this to work well, you should have a high performance, low volume switching valve or automated column selection system (e.g. The LC Spiderling Column Selection System) installed so you can easily by-pass your column (otherwise, remove your column and place a high pressure, low volume union in its place).
(2) Set the diode array detector to a high sampling rate because the sample is going to fly through the flow cell quickly. Use a sampling rate that is faster than you would use if a column was there to disperse the sample and slow down the peaks.
(3) Choose a wide range of wavelengths to scan and store. If the sample appears colorless to the eye in solution and I am running in a UV transparent solvent such as acetonitrile, then I often use a range of 210 to 450nm.