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Experts use high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) regularly in several industries, such as pharmaceuticals, medicine, water purification, and more to develop theories and conduct research. There are four different types of HPLC columns used in analysis, depending on the research. Continue reading to learn more.

Ion exchange

When a lab technician must analyze a sample that requires ionization, they’ll often choose an ion exchange column. It’s common to find these columns in labs that analyze proteins, amino acids, alcohols, phenols, thiols, DNA, vitamins, and so on. In other words, labs that specialize in nutritional analysis often have plenty of ion exchange columns.

Size exclusion

Sometimes, experts face a problem where the components they’re analyzing are different sizes––this is where size exclusion columns help. If there’s a sample with larger molecules that must separate, a size exclusion column helps separate molecules based on their size. Size exclusion chromatography (SEC) is another common method that analyzes proteins.

Normal phase

Many labs will operate using both normal and reverse phase HPLC because of their versatility. A common use for normal phase columns is to separate polar and nonpolar compounds. However, many normal phase columns are available in different pore sizes to accommodate for the different particle sizes.

Reverse phase

Alternatively, reverse phase HPLC columns are common in most labs because it’s a versatile phase of HPLC. However, reverse phase chromatography (RPC) is best known for testing substances for purity, such as water and proteins. In addition, RPC is similar to normal phase chromatography, as they both separate substances based on polarity.

Depending on the lab and the individual operating the testing, some labs may only have one of these HPLC column types, while others will have all of them. Every lab should have at least one pack of each of the different HPLC column types to prepare for any analysis.

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