Schools Training

Introductory-Level High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Courses Demystified

24 MAY 2012
Career Path : High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

The cost of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) has fallen dramatically in recent years, leading to an increased demand for this laboratory testing procedure, which is used to separate and identify the individual components of a compound. This is good news for students contemplating HPLC courses. But what can they expect to learn once enrolled?

Most HPLC courses will begin with an explanation of the different kinds of chromatography.

1. Ion chromatography

This is a process used to separate compounds into ions and polar molecules. Students in HPLC courses who go on to specialize in this technique may find themselves testing water or analyzing proteins.

2. Size exclusion or gel filtration

This is a process used to separate molecules by size and weight. It is one of the newer technologies on the curriculum in many of today’s HPLC courses, and one of the reasons, therefore, why even experienced laboratory technicians may consider retraining.

3. Chiral chromatography

This is a process used to separate stereoisomers. Students who go on to take HPLC courses specialized in this kind of chromatography must have or develop a deep knowledge of chemistry.

4. Normal-phase chromatography, reversed-phase chromatography, etc.

Clearly, there are many kinds of chromatography for new students to get their heads around. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the introductory curriculum in most HPLC courses.

Students in beginner HPLC courses can also expect an overview of chromatography accessories, including:

  • positive displacement piston pumps
  • binary gradient pumps
  • high pressure pumps and ultra-high pressure pumps

In fact, there are so many types of pumps that can be used in chromatography that a whole series of HPLC courses could be devoted to these devices alone.

Other tools that are commonly introduced in beginner level HPLC courses include injectors and selectors. Injectors are one of the tools that has seen a lot of change over the years. In the past, the injection technique sometimes introduced error. But new tools have lessened this risk.

Students taking HPLC courses for the first time may also learn some separation theory, i.e.:

  • capacity
  • selectivity
  • efficiency
  • how to calculate resolution

Another topic covered in beginner HPLC courses is how to properly prepare samples for testing. Again, here, students will be introduced to a range of tools used in the process, ranging from syringe filters to weighing papers.

Other concepts touched upon in introductory level HPLC courses include:

  • such concepts as linearity and sensitivity
  • Beer’s Law
  • molar absorptivity

Clearly, there are a lot of concepts for students in novice-level HPLC courses to master quickly. But in an industry that is burgeoning, the pay-off, in the form of a hands-on, science-based career, can be big.