Retention time locking procedure for comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography
In gas chromatography (GC) reproducible retention times are in many cases highly favorable or in some cases even required. In one-dimensional GC, retention time shifts can be eliminated or minimized by using a procedure called retention time locking (RTL). This procedure is based on adjusting the (constant) column head pressure. Unfortunately, this RTL procedure cannot be used in comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) given the fact that peaks will shift in both dimensions. Adjusting the column head pressure in GCxGC will only minimize or eliminate the primary retention time shifts. In this paper, a fast and easy to perform, two-step retention time locking procedure for two-dimensional gas chromatography (2D-RTL) is proposed and its feasibility is demonstrated. This 2D-RTL procedure involves adjustment of the column head pressure or constant column flow, followed by the adjustment of the so-called effective secondary column length. The secondary column length is increased or decreased, simply by moving it stepwise through the modulator. It is demonstrated that retention time shifts in both the primary and secondary dimension, which may occur after e.g. replacing the column set, can be minimized to less than half peak base width. The proposed 2D-RTL procedure is used successfully for approximately 1 year in our laboratory.