A practical approach to maximizing peak capacity by using long columns packed with pellicular stationary phases for proteomic research

Xiaoli Wang, William E. Barber, Peter W. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Maximization of peak capacity is a very important step in developing one-dimensional separations of complex samples. In recent work, it was shown that the use of small particles in combination with the new technique of ultrahigh pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) was able to generate very high peak capacities. Here we show the ability of conventional HPLC instrumentation to give comparable peak capacities to those obtained in UHPLC for the important case of complex mixtures of peptides but at much lower pressures by using a 60 cm long set of columns packed with 5 μm pellicular (superficially porous) particles. We first show, in complete agreement with the well known results of the theory of isocratic separations that, when time is not limiting, the best peak capacities in gradient elution chromatography are obtained by using large particles and the longest column that can be operated at the pump's pressure limit. Two different types of 5 μm particles (superficially porous and totally porous) were compared for their efficiency in gradient chromatography of peptides. We find that the pellicular material gave about 50% higher peak capacity compared to the analogous porous material. A 60 cm column set packed with pellicular particles was made by connecting short columns in series; a peak capacity of about 460 was obtained in 4 h at room temperature. Increasing the column temperature to 70°C reduced the analysis time to 2 h and further increased the peak capacity to more than 500. The number of peaks observed in the separation of bovine serum albumin tryptic peptides was greatly increased and the separation quality was significantly improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 24 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Institute of Health (Grant # 5R01GM054585-09). Several conversations with Professor David Muddiman were very helpful during the course of this work.


  • Gradient elution
  • Optimization
  • Peak capacity
  • Pellicular stationary phases
  • Proteomics
  • RPLC


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