Are You in the Market for Chromatography Sample Prep?

Sample preparation is an essential step in many analyses and the importance of accurate sample preparation techniques cannot be overstated. Get the sample prep survey results here.

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Sample preparation is an essential step in many analyses and the importance of accurate sample preparation techniques cannot be overstated. The sample preparation procedure significantly impacts assay throughput, data quality, and analysis cost. Contamination may affect the analytical results for all applications, hence, reagents used in sample preparation, including water, need to be of increasingly high purity. Based on vendor estimates, errors of commonly used measurement methods are usually below 20 percent but can easily rise to more than 200 percent. To avoid the total failure of an analytical procedure, it is better to invest effort and money in the improvement of sample preparation techniques rather than squeezing the measurement procedures to get one or two percent improvement in standard deviation.

Lab professionals face many challenges in preparing samples for analysis, from reliability and robustness of chromatography (e.g. peak drift); ease of use; safety issues (handling of large solvent volumes); sample and fraction storage formats; fractionation of unresolved peaks; optimized recovery and purity; and large numbers of samples. Recent technological advances, as well as an increasing need for safety, traceability and control of samples, have led to the development of faster analytical methods with higher resolution and sensitivity.

Sample preparation is fundamental to any analytical laboratory, and over half of the work is still done manually. Depending on the number of samples and the throughput, sample preparation is expected to become a much more automated process. Automation makes sample preparation more precise and more productive, saves expensive solvents, and reduces exposure to hazardous reagents. Automated sample prep can be carried out in three ways: Sequential processing, where a single sample follows steps one by one; batch processing, where each operation of the procedure is handled for all samples; and concurrent sequential processing, where more than one sample enters the chain of operation, allowing many identical operations to take place at the same time.

Close to 40 percent of respondents currently or planning to automate their entire sample preparation process or specific techniques within the process:

Yes 14%
No, but planning to automate the process 24%
No, and no plans to automate 62%

Lab professionals spend on average up to 80 percent of their time preparing samples for analysis--from collection to data management. Proper sample preparation helps with common sample analysis challenges such as: poor sensitivity, interfering peaks, low recovery, inconsistent results, and limited sample volume.

Time spent per month on the following sample processes for chromatography analysis in your lab:

  Collection of
samples
Sample
preparation
Storing of
samples
Sample
analysis
Data
management
less than a day
46%
23%
37%
14%
19%
1 - 5 days
29%
37%
34%
37%
44%
6 - 15 days
14%
22%
11%
25%
21%
16 - 25 days
3%
9%
4%
13%
6%
26 - 30 days
8%
8%
13%
11%
10%

The number of samples a lab prepares each month usually determines whether the process is done in the lab or outsourced. Of those respondents whose labs send samples out for analysis, close to 50 percent do so because they don’t have in-house technology available for the analysis; 20 percent require confirmation of their analysis; and 14 percent are required by regulation.

Number of samples processed per month for
chromatography analysis
Total samples
processed
Samples processed
in-house
Samples sent out for
processing
1- 25
48%
31%
69%
26-100
23%
74%
26%
101-250
10%
87%
13%
251-500
7%
93%
7%
501-1000
5%
95%
5%
> 1001
7%
96%
4%

Sample preparation can be achieved using several different techniques, and sometimes the best technique is dictated by the sample type. Based on respondents’ replies, the most common techniques include filtration, solvent extraction, liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) and solid phase extraction (SPE). SPE is one of the simplest and most effective methods. Affordable and disposable SPE cartridges make the technique very user-friendly and are available from a variety of manufacturers.

Filtration 20%
Solvent Extraction 18%
Liquid-Liquid Extraction (LLE) 15%
Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) 14%
Protein Precipitation (PPT) 7%
Dialysis 4%
Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) 4%
Immunoaffinity Extraction (IAE) 3%
Matrix Solid Phase Dispersion (MSPD) 2%
Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) 2%
Other (please specify): 11%

Selecting and optimizing an appropriate sample preparation method is essential for successful method development. Preparation of samples demands a keen understanding of what type of analysis will produce the best, most accurate results, and knowledge of what to look for in the final sample. Only in that way will researchers be able to get an accurate analysis of the properties that make up their samples.

The top three features / factors that influence the decisionmaking process for making improvements in sample preparation are: Lower costs (reagents, syringe filters, vials and other related accessories) – 97 percent; greater quality of data - 94 percent; and faster sample prep time - 85 percent.

Lower cost (less solvent, reagent consumption, etc…) 97%
Greater accuracy / Improve quality of data 94%
Faster sample prep time (processing multiple samples) 85%
Greater recoveries - minimal sample transfer 50%
Easier data review 44%
Improved safety (reduced solvent/sample exposure and glassware) 39%
Making an investment in instruments 38%
Other (please specify): 6%

Completed Surveys: 245

Categories: Surveys

Published In

Go, Go Gadgets Magazine Issue Cover
Go, Go Gadgets

Published: July 5, 2011

Cover Story

Go, Go Gadgets

Continuous advances in mobile technology have been changing the way the modern world works. Make last-minute changes to a presentation on your way to a meeting, send reports back to the office while you’re at a conference or trade show, or even input data from an experiment into the LIMS directly at the bench.