Leak-free, zero-dead-volume connections are critical to good liquid chromatography. In addition to leaks, we could also suffer from peak shape problems. We walk through key information for LC column installation so that you can make a good connection every time.
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Connecting an LC column is a seemingly simple task, though there are a few considerations to ensure a leak-free, zero-dead-volume connection. I always begin by inspecting the fittings that will be screwed into the column body. If using a PEEK fitting, for standard HPLC pressures be sure that your tubing is cut square and the fitting threads are in good shape. Many times, I even swap out a traditional PEEK fitting for a hand-tight EXP fitting. The nice thing about the EXP fittings is that the PEEK/titanium non-swaged ferrule allows for repeated installations without compromising the high-pressure seal. When making the shift to UHPLC, the EXP fittings can be used at pressures greater than 1000+ bar using a wrench and an extra quarter to half turn.
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate fittings, be sure to check your column label for flow direction and insert your fitting into the column end. I like to push the tubing into the column as I’m securing the fitting—this ensure that a zero-dead-volume connection is made. After your column is connected, turn on your pump’s flow and be confident you’ve made a leak-free connection!
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