Chromatography equipment

A typical liquid chromatography equipment consists of several important components. These components have their specific functions, and they need each other so that we can run a successful chromatography experiment.

A screenshot of an example of chromatography equipment with its parts indicated by big letters. Two glass flasks standing on the workbench are marked with the letter “A”, called “mobile phase reservoirs”. Small white cylinders sticking out from the side of the rectangular machine are marked with the letter “B”, called “pumps”. Another small white cylinder sticking out from the other side of the machine is marked with the letter “C”, and called “Sample injector”. Vertically attached white tube with two orange caps on its side is marked with the letter “D”, and named “Stationary phase reservoir”. White, thin, horizontal platform under the column is marked with the letter “E”, and called “Detector”. The big white cylinder on top of the machine with many holes for tubes is marked with the letter “F”, and called “Fraction collector”.

Figure 1. Example of a typical liquid chromatography equipment showing the different parts.

The main components are listed below:

  • A) Mobile phase reservoir: This is where the mobile phase is contained. The mobile phase is normally stored in glass bottles.

  • B) Pumps: The function of the pump is to create high pressure and create a flow of mobile phase in the system.

  • C) Sample injector: Here is where the sample is introduced into the system. The sample needs to be in liquid form (solution).

  • D) Stationary phase reservoir: This is where the stationary phase is contained, normally inside of a column that is filled with beads or a porous material. Here is where the sample separation takes place. Therefore, its selection is very important to efficiently separate the molecule of interest from the rest of the sample.

  • E) Detector: This part is responsible for identifying and quantifying the separated analytes. The information is collected and sent to the associated software to prepare the final chromatogram.

  • F) Fraction collector: This part of the equipment collects the sample in different fractions according to the parameters selected by the operator. When the sample goes through the detector, if the parameters detected correspond to the same fraction as in the previous volume, it will be collected in the same tube. If not, the fraction collector will move clockwise so the eluted sample goes to the next tube.