Identifying the Increased Scope of Core-Shell Technology for HPLC and UHPLC Chromatographers

Mar 03 2015

Author: Simon Lomas on behalf of Phenomenex Inc

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Since their introduction in the late-2000s, core-shell particles (alternatively referred to as superficially porous particles), have become increasingly used across the HPLC/UHPLC landscape. Based upon our experience with both fully porous and core-shell based liquid chromatography products, we believe that, in the coming years, core-shell technology will continue to provide increasing benefits to separation scientists including greater sample throughput, improved sensitivity, and increased resolution as well as more compatibility across various instrumentation platforms. As of today, analysts, in virtually any industry that performs liquid chromatography can depend on core-shell columns because of their proven superior performance and wide reaching benefits compared to traditional and conventional HPLC, UHPLC and Preparative HPLC products. Even conservative pharmacopeia and compendial methods have begun accepting and labelling method updates with core-shell products. Most importantly, though, the recent development of new surface chemistries combined with innovations in core-shell media manufacturing have enabled core-shell products to keep pace with the market’s separation needs and to overcome increasingly demanding challenges and obstacles. In order to gain a clear perspective into what the future might hold for core-shell particles, it is first important to quickly recap the evolution of core-shell technology in recent years.

The Solution for HPLC & UHPLC
Due to the technological hurdles of manufacturing core-shell particles, there were just three core-shell manufacturers in 2009. However, over time manufacturing improvements and technological advancements made core-shell particle development technology accessible to a broader range of media manufacturers, and now the number of core-shell suppliers has significantly increased (alongside an even larger increase in the number of core-shell distributors). The increased availability of core-shell media has resulted in a boon for chromatographers, as core-shell products now exist in an incredible amount of formats and selectivities to fit virtually any separation situation.
Initially, core-shell particles were only available in sub-3 μm (typically 2.6 or 2.7 μm) formats. Columns packed with these particles were able to provide column efficiency values that were significantly greater than those of conventional fully porous 3 μm particles, but operated at comparable pressures. In fact, as has been demonstrated in numerous publications [1], columns packed with 2.6 μm core-shell particles were able to generate efficiency values that were equivalent to columns packed with 1.7 μm fully porous particles. Thus, the sub-3 μm core-shell particles had the versatility to be compatible with both HPLC and UHPLC systems and, because of this flexibility; this particle size range became the most widely applicable for most analytical labs. With the sub-2 μm like efficiency at low backpressures, UHPLC scientists were given the ability to run faster and faster methods, while maintaining desired resolution and peak capacities. Meanwhile, HPLC chromatographers could upgrade their existing methods with ~2.6 μm core-shell columns that gave them a chance to see UHPLC results on HPLC systems, negating the need for expensive capital purchases of new instrumentation.

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