A purge and trap integrated microGC platform for chemical identification in aqueous samples†
The majority of current micro-scale gas chromatography (μGC) systems focus on air sampling to detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, purging the VOCs from a water sample using microsystems is an unchartered territory. Various organic compounds used in everyday life find their way to water bodies. Some of these water organic compounds (WOCs) persist or degrade slowly, threatening not just human existence but also aquatic life. This article reports the first micro-purge extractor (μPE) chip and its integration with a micro-scale gas chromatography (μGC) system for the extraction and analysis of water organic compounds (WOCs) from aqueous samples. The 2 cm × 3 cm μPE chip contains two inlet and outlet ports and an etched cavity sealed with a Pyrex cover. The aqueous sample is introduced from the top inlet port while a pure inert gas is supplied from the side inlet to purge WOCs from the μPE chip. The outlets are assigned for draining water from the chip and for directing purged WOCs to the micro-thermal preconcentrator (μTPC). The trapped compounds are desorbed from the μTPC by resistive heating using the on-chip heater and temperature sensor, are separated by a 2 m long, 80 μm wide, and 250 μm deep polydimethylsiloxane (OV-1) coated μGC separation column, and are identified using a micro-thermal conductivity detector (μTCD) monolithically integrated with the column. Our experiments indicate that the combined system is capable of providing rapid chromatographic separation (<1.5 min) for quaternary WOCs namely toluene, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), chlorobenzene and ethylbenzene with a minimum detection concentration of 500 parts-per-billion (ppb) in aqueous samples. The proposed method is a promising development towards the future realization of a miniaturized system for sensitive, on-site and real-time field analysis of organic contaminants in water.