Microfabricated porous layer open tubular (PLOT) column†
Development of micro gas chromatography (μGC) is aimed at rapid and in situ analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for environmental protection, industrial monitoring, and toxicology. However, due to the lack of appropriate microcolumns and associated stationary phases, current μGC is unable to separate highly volatile chemicals such as methane, methanol, and formaldehyde, which are of great interest for their high toxicity and carcinogenicity. This inability has significantly limited μGC field applicability. To address this deficiency, this paper reports the development and characterization of a microfabricated porous layer open tubular (μPLOT) column with a divinylbenzene-based stationary phase. The separation capabilities of the μPLOT column are demonstrated by three distinct analyses of light alkanes, formaldehyde solution, and organic solvents, exhibiting its general utility for a wide range of highly volatile compounds. Further characterization shows the robust performance of the μPLOT column in the presence of high moisture and at high temperatures (up to 300 °C). The small footprint and the ability to separate highly volatile chemicals make the μPLOT column highly suitable for integration into μGC systems, thus significantly broadening μGC's applicability to rapid, field analysis of VOCs.