Manufacturers of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems continue to innovate, while simultaneously providing upgrade paths for older instruments. Modular HPLC systems provide maximum flexibility and upgradability compared with “one box” integrated chromatographs. By switching modules, users can access the latest technology while reducing downtime during repair or servicing. On the other hand, integrated systems are less expensive because they use only one power supply, one set of communication electronics, and one cover. Since HPLCs are long-lived instruments, upwards and downwards compatibility is a major concern. Compatibility also provides a relatively straightforward upgrade path, provided components are replaceable and the manufacturer has embraced open architecture. For example, older instruments may access quick-change valve technology, which facilitates plumbing tasks.

During the last decade we have witnessed the debut and evolution of ultra-high-performance LC (UHPLC), widespread adoption of mass detectors, and greater appreciation for rapid methods based on novel or revived column technologies. Compared with HPLC, UHPLC provides improved resolution, sensitivity, and throughput through the use of sub-2μ particles, typically packed in 2.1mm or 1.0mm ID (internal diameter) columns. Since Lab Manager Magazine’s HPLC survey in 2011, the number of UHPLC systems used in labs increased 3%.

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