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Coupling state-of-the-art supercritical fluid chromatography and mass spectrometry: From hyphenation interface optimization to high-sensitivity analysis of pharmaceutical compounds

Journal of Chromatography A
DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2014.03.006
  • Sfc–Ms
  • Uhpsfc–Ms
  • Interfacing Approach
  • Detection Sensitivity
  • Pharmaceutical Application
  • Design
  • Pharmacology


Abstract The recent market release of a new generation of supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) instruments compatible with state-of-the-art columns packed with sub-2μm particles (UHPSFC) has contributed to the reemergence of interest in this technology at the analytical scale. However, to ensure performance competitiveness of this technique with modern analytical standards, a robust hyphenation of UHPSFC to mass spectrometry (MS) is mandatory. UHPSFC–MS hyphenation interface should be able to manage the compressibility of the SFC mobile phase and to preserve as much as possible the chromatographic separation integrity. Although several interfaces can be envisioned, each will have noticeable effects on chromatographic fidelity, flexibility and user-friendliness. In the present study, various interface configurations were evaluated in terms of their impact on chromatographic efficiency and MS detection sensitivity. An interface including a splitter and a make-up solvent inlet was found to be the best compromise and exhibited good detection sensitivity while maintaining more than 75% of the chromatographic efficiency. This interface was also the most versatile in terms of applicable analytical conditions. In addition, an accurate model of the fluidics behavior of this interface was created for a better understanding of the influence of chromatographic settings on its mode of operation. In the second part, the most influential experimental factors affecting MS detection sensitivity were identified and optimized using a design-of-experiment approach. The application of low capillary voltage and high desolvation temperature and drying gas flow rate were required for optimal ESI ionization and nebulization processes. The detection sensitivity achieved using the maximized UHPSFC–ESI-MS/MS conditions for a mixture of basic pharmaceutical compounds showed 4- to 10-fold improvements in peak intensity compared to the best performance achieved by UHPLC–ESI-MS/MS with the same MS detector.

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