HILIC After the Hype: A Separation Technology here to Stay

Jun 10 2011

Author: Petrus Hemström, Tobias Jonsson, Patrik Appelblad, Wen Jiang on behalf of Merck life science KGaA

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Today Hydrophilic Interaction Liquid Chromatography (HILIC) is by far the fastest growing HPLC separation mode, currently being used by almost 20% of the HPLC instrument owners [1], although the relative number of applications still is considerably fewer. Does this mean HILIC is yet another technology-hype on the separation science scene, and that the interest will soon vanish? We believe not. This paper reviews the reasons behind the remarkable rise of HILIC and based on that, tries to predict future development within this separation technology. For an introduction to the basic separation requirements and mechanisms, we refer to previous texts [2] on the subject.

HILIC History
The story about modern HILIC started with a publication [3] more than 20 years ago: “Hydrophilic-Interaction Chromatography for the Separation of Peptides, Nucleic Acids and other Polar Compounds” The HILIC separation technique had actually
by then been used for about 15 years for sugar analysis on aminopropyl silica columns, but it was with his landmark paper in 1990 that Andrew Alpert showed HILIC to be a universal separation mode, potentially applicable to separation of all types of polar compounds. The publication went by relatively unnoticed by the HPLC community, and for the next 12 years the number of people using HILIC were rather limited [2], many of whom did not even use the term HILIC.

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