Comparison of the chromatography of octadecyl silane bonded silica and polybutadiene-coated zirconia phases based on a diverse set of cationic drugs

Jun Dai, Xiqin Yang, Peter W. Carr

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58 Scopus citations


In this study, we compare the separation of basic drugs on several octadecyl silane bonded silica (ODS) phases and a polybutadiene-coated zirconia (PBD-ZrO2) phase. The retention characteristics were investigated in detail using a variety of cationic drugs as probe solutes. The ODS phases were selected to cover a relatively wide range in silanol activity and were studied with ammonium phosphate eluents at pH 3.0 and 6.0. Compared to any of the ODS phases, the PBD-ZrO2 phase showed very significant differences in selectivities towards these drugs. Due to the presence of both reversed-phase and ion-exchange interactions between the stationary phase and the basic analyte on ODS and PBD-ZrO2, mixed-mode retention takes place to some extent on both types of phases. However, very large differences in the relative contributions from ion-exchange and reversed-phase interactions on the two types of phases led to quite different selectivities. When phosphate is present in the eluent and adsorbs on the surface, the PBD-ZrO2 phase takes on a high negative charge over a wide pH range due to phosphate adsorption on its surface. On ODS phases, ion-exchange interactions result from the interactions between protonated basic compounds and ionized residual silanol groups. Since the pH of the eluent influences the charge state of the silanol groups, the ion-exchange interactions vary in strength depending on pH. At pH 6.0, the ion-exchange interactions are strong. However, at pH 3.0 the ion-exchange interactions on ODS are significantly smaller because the silanol groups are less dissociated at the lower pH. Thus, not only are the selectivities of the ODS and PBD-ZrO2 phases different but quite different trends in retention are observed on these two types of phases as the pH of the eluent is varied. More importantly, by using the large set of "real" basic analytes we show the extreme complexity of the chromatographic processes on the reversed stationary phases. Both the test condition and solute property influence the column performance. Therefore, use of only one or two probe solutes is not sufficient for column ranking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-82
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 11 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Institutes of Health and thank ZirChrom Separations for their donation of the PBD–ZrO 2 particles used in this work. We also thank Alltech Associates, Agilent Technologies, and Mac-Mod Analytical, Inc., for the generous gift of columns.


  • Cationic drugs
  • Column characterization
  • Octadecyl silane bonded silica phase
  • Polybutadiene-coated zirconia phase
  • Silanol activity
  • Stationary phases, LC


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