Research

Research carried out in the Department of General Chemistry and Chromatography is focused on the selected physicochemical aspects of separation in liquid chromatography (LC) and in gas chromatography (GC).

Within the framework of LC, the main effort of our crew has been invested in careful examination of the potential of densitometric detection in thin-layer chromatography (TLC). Modern densitometric detection offers an invaluable possibility of a digital data acquisition and processing of the chromatograms, and consequently, of gaining a deeper insight into the molecular-level phenomena involved in retention. Owing to these densitometrically expanded possibilities of TLC, relatively subtle phenomena of lateral interactions (i.e. of the self-association and mixed association among the analyte molecules, that occur in the thin-layer chromatographic systems), have been precisely demonstrated and also semiquantitatively evaluated.

Another field of our thin-layer chromatographic activity is examination of applicability of this particular analytical technique to separation of enantiomers. In spite of its considerable separation potential (as quantified, e.g., in terms of the theoretical plates number, N), until recently TLC has not been taken seriously enough as a versatile separation tool, perfectly well suited for this important analytical task. In our experimental studies, we managed not only to show an excellent performance of TLC in separating enantiomers, but also to present its usefulness in assessing of the purely physical phenomena (like, e.g., trans-enantiomerization of one species into its mirror image, classically traced polarimetrically as a change of optical rotation of an enantiomeric system involved).

The starting point for our research in the theory of GC is deep conviction, that - in spite of its relatively well established position among the other separation techniques - GC can still gain some novel physicochemically grounded mathematical descriptions, which might allow a simplified access to thermodynamic characteristics of the analytes involved. Thus our interests in GC primarily focus on elaboration of new, physicochemically grounded and at the same time quantitative models of the analytes retention, in the first instance applicable to the capillary GC. Our major success in this particular field of the chromatographic theory consists in attributing of the first quantitative and - what is particularly important - physically sound explanation to the empirical phenomenon of the temperature dependance of the Kovats retention index, I.