The Future of UHPLC


I  was invited to contribute to the above distinguished seminar, arranged by Thermo Fisher Scientific. The event took place at the Thermo Fisher Scientific site in Germering close to Munich, September 4 and 5. The seminar was arranged and moderated by Dr. Frank Steiner and Dr. Remco Swart. Several well known scientists were present like Prof. David McCalley, Univ. South West England, Prof. Wolfgang Lindner, Vienna University, Prof. Christian Huber from Salzburg University, Prof. Gert Desmet, Free University of Brussels, Prof. Gérard Hopfgartner from Geneva University, Prof. Peter Schoenmakers, University of Amsterdam. Presentations were delivered by David McCalley,  Christian Huber, Dr. Stephan Lamotte, Dr Thorsten Teutenberg, Univ. of Duisburg, Dr. Bas Eeltink, Free University of Brussels, Dr. Chris Pohl of Thermo Scientific and myself. A PDF-copy of my talk can be found in the menu item "My Orals".

Thermo Scientific HPLC Instrument and HPLC system manufacturing, development and marketing takes place at the site in Germering by about 300 employees. On Thursday a factory tour was hosted by the managing director Wulf  Niedner. A very well organized factory showed where instruments are built in small workplaces according to the KanBan principle. Subassays are pre-prepared and assembled into instruments that are tested. After that (U)HPLC systems are assembled as ordered and go through a 18-24 hours automatic final test. The current Ultimate 3000 system and the new Vanquish system are built here besides the Corona Aerosal detector.

The new Vanquish system was introduced to the group by Dr, Markus Martin. Some key data:

  • 1500 bar pump, flow rate range 50 -5000 µL/min, binary high pressure gradient with 2x three flow channels. Delay volume 35 µL
  • The injection system has a carussel with 4 Wellplates.A well plate hotel can be connected for totally  8832 samples. Sample volume from 0.01 - 100 μL with 0.01 µL increments. A high pressure sample injection syringes is used. Sample is precompressed prior to injection. The sample injection valve is a new development which is claimed to be extremely reliable even at the ultra high pressure that is used.
  • The detector has a liquid core waveguide flow cell  with path length 10 und 60 mm. LDR bis 3000 mAU. Noise 3 µAU.
  • The column compartment can be placed to the left or to the right of the instrument modules in dependence of the entrance of the mass spectrometer. The column thermostate has a range of  5 – 120 °C with two operational modes vs "forced air" and „still air“. Mobile phase is preheated. In case the column generates low frictional heat, the forced air mode is recommended. Else the still air mode should be preferred under UHPLC conditions
  • A new column material was introduced viz. AccuCore which is superficially porous with 1.5 µm diameter. Viper capillary connections are used in the system
  • There are no wettable metal surfaces in the system so it can be regarded biocompatible
  • The modules are placed on trays which allows easy access. Nevertheless the system has a large footprint (especially with the well-plate hotel)

I had the priviledge to start the session on Friday morning followed by David McCalley. David shared his experiences with UHPLC of Agilent and Waters with an eye for a lot of practical detail. The other authors spoke more about their own recent work which in my view was not too relevant for the theme of the seminar. Interesting though was the work by Stephan Lamotte who aims to solve new separation problems with very long HPLC columns. Not as a topic on the agenda, 2D HPLC and Method Devlopment, Validation and Transfer were intensively discussed.

It was suggested to continue such session with focus on special topics allowing the experts to share their specific experience with Thermo staff and make it more valuable for them. Overall Thermo Scientific has hosted the pariticipants well and all declared their willingness to help on future Thermo events.