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Top Features Readers Look for in Chromatography Columns

Learn the most common separation modes used by readers, and more from the latest chromatography columns survey results

by Shane Downie

The wide spectrum of columns available makes selecting this most important component of an LC system extremely difficult. Column choices span normal phase, reverse phase, size exclusion, ion exchange, hydrophobic interaction, and affinity chromatography. One is hard-pressed to find a more innovative, self-reflective instrument market.

Top 7 Questions You Should Ask When Buying Chromatography Columns

  1. Based on your analyte(s), matrix, separation goals, and instrumentation, what column does the vendor recommend?
  2. What benefits does this column offer over your current column? Performance, lifetime, reproducibility, etc.
  3. How should you clean/prepare your sample prior to injection on the column?
  4. How do you care for the column? Conditioning, cleaning, storage, etc.
  5. What type of chromatographic media (fully porous, monolithic, core-shell) is going to provide the most benefit for your separation?
  6. Do you need a unique selectivity (HILIC, polar endcapped, etc.) to separate any very polar and/ or nonpolar components in your mixture?
  7. What column dimension is going to be most suitable for your loading requirement?

Separation modes used by survey respondents:

Reverse phase 59%
Normal phase 39%
Ion exchange 26%
Hydrophilic interaction (HILIC) 23%
Ion chromatography 18%
Affinity 16%
Chiral 13%
Gel filtration (GFC) 13%
Ion exclusion 13%
Gel permeation (GPC) 11%
Other 10%

Column phases used by survey respondents:

C18 58%
Silica 37%
Anion exchange 24%
Phenyl 24%
Cation exchange 21%
C8 21%
C18 (polar endcapped) 19%
Biphenyl 13%
Other 13%
Amino 11%
Cyano 11%
C4 8%
PFP 5%

Nearly 67% of respondents are engaged in purchasing new chromatography columns. The reasons for these purchases are as follows:

Require higher quality data
Increase column life
Addition to existing systems, increase capacity
Trying to reduce operating costs
Setting up a new lab / developing a brand new method
Require shorter run times / increased lab throughput
Working with more difficult samples that cause column clogging
Require more precise and accurate flow rates
Reduce solvent usage and waste
Require a special size column
Reduce sample prep steps and time

Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing chromatography columns:

Lot to lot reproducibility 87%
Technical performance 74%
Ruggedness / durability 69%
Initial purchase price of column 53%
Reputation of column manufacturer 43%
Applications support 43%
Column discount program 42%
Method validation / compliance support 36%
Specials and promotions 34%
Available applications literature 26%

For more information on chromatography columns, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit

See results from previous surveys: