Conclusions

During its half century history, gas chromatography (GC) has evolved to become the world's most widely used analytical technique. The growth has accelerated with the commercial availability of columns, the quality of which has shown consistent improvements, and by the continuing development of compatible instrumentation and combined techniques (e.g. gas chromatography-spectrometry, GC-AED, etc.). Also important to that growth is the fact that the technique possesses separation powers so great that the unskilled analyst can abuse the technique and still generate useful data. Other analytical methods (e.g. capillary electrophoresis, capillary zone electrophoresis, liquid chromatography) have shown promise of greatly increased growth, but GC has not stagnated. Many of the elements necessary for 'fast' GC have been known for some time, but their application usually requires instrumental modification and adaptation beyond the purview of most practising analysts. Some cracks in this barrier have recently appeared. Developments in more selective stationary phases, electronic pneumatic controls, micropacked columns, and shorter columns of smaller diameter now permit some users to demonstrate improved separations while reducing analysis times. Appreciable time savings have been demonstrated merely through refinement of operational parameters (temperature, program rates, gas velocity). By changing both operational and design parameters (e.g. column dimensions), analysis times using unmodified instrumentation have been reduced from 30 min to a few seconds. A greater utilization of these newer developments, however, will require honing the skills of the average analyst through continuing education.

See Colour Plates 19, 20.

See also: N/Chromatography: Gas: Detectors: General (Flame Ionization Detectors and Thermal Conductivity Detectors); Detectors: Mass Spectrometry; Detectors: Selective; Gas-Solid Gas Chromatography; Historical Development; Sampling Systems; Theory of Gas Chromatography. Appendix 2: Essential Guides to Method Development in Gas Chromatography.

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