Contributions to reversed-phase column selectivity. I. Steric interaction

P. W. Carr, J. W. Dolan, U. D. Neue, L. R. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


In reversed-phase chromatography (RPC), the restricted retention of " bulky" solutes can occur in one of two ways, giving rise to either " shape selectivity" or " steric interaction." Starting with data for 150 solutes and 167 monomeric type-B alkylsilica columns, the present study examines the steric interaction process further and compares it with shape selectivity. The dependence of column hydrophobicity and steric interaction on column properties (ligand length and concentration, pore diameter, end-capping) was determined and compared. The role of the solute in steric interaction was found to be primarily a function of solute molecular length, with longer solutes giving increased steric interaction. We find that there are several distinct differences in the way shape selectivity and steric interaction are affected by separation conditions and the nature of the sample. Of particular interest, steric interaction exhibits a maximum effect for monomeric C18 columns, and becomes less important for either a C1 or C30 column; shape selectivity appears unimportant for monomeric C1-C18 columns at ambient and higher temperatures, but becomes pronounced for C30 - as well as polymeric columns with ligands ≥C8. One hypothesis is that shape selectivity involves the presence or creation of cavities within the stationary phase that can accommodate a retained solute (a primarily enthalpic process), while steric interaction mainly makes greater use of spaces that pre-exist the retention of the solute (a primarily entropic process). The related dependence of hydrophobic interaction on column properties was also examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1724-1742
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011


  • Column selectivity
  • HPLC
  • Hydrophobic-subtraction
  • Retention mechanism
  • Shape selectivity
  • Steric interaction


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