Investigation of the potential of mixed solvent mobile phases in temperature-responsive liquid chromatography (TRLC)†
Temperature-responsive liquid chromatography (TRLC) allows for extensive retention and selectivity tuning through temperature in HPLC. This is mainly achieved through the use of a stationary phases comprising of a temperature-responsive polymer which undergoes a reversible change from hydrophilic to hydrophobic behaviour upon increasing the temperature. The approach can allow for reversed phase type separations to be achieved with purely aqueous mobile phases, whereby the retention is controlled through temperature instead of mobile phase composition. Despite the promising nature of such form of retention control under isocratic mobile phase conditions, TRLC can suffer from excessive retention of highly apolar solutes even at lower column temperatures whereby the polymer is considered hydrophilic. This is related both to a residual apolarity of the polymer chain and due to the high log P's and low water solubility of higly apolar compounds. While it was known that elution in TRLC doesn't necessarily has to be performed under purely aqueous conditions and that the use of organic co-solvents to the water is possible, the impact thereof on the temperature responsive behaviour itself had not yet been investigated in a systematic way. Therefore in this work the advantages and drawbacks of the use of the organic co-solvents methanol and acetonitrile in TRLC is assessed on two types of temperature reponsive phases: poly-N-N-propylacrylamide (PNNPAAm) and poly-N-isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAAm). The influence of organic co-solvents is investigated with two representative test mixtures (comprising 4 parabens and 5 apolar steroids).