Definition of Gas Chromatography (GC)

What is Gas Chromatography?

Gas chromatography is used to separate individual compounds from mixtures of volatile organic compounds.

A gas chromatograph consists of a flowing mobile phase, an injection port, a separation column containing the stationary phase, a detector, and a data recording system.

The organic compounds are separated due to differences in their partitioning behavior between the mobile gas phase and the stationary phase in the column.

Mobile phases are generally inert gases such as helium, argon, or nitrogen.

The injection port consists of a rubber septum through which a syringe needle is inserted to inject the sample.

The injection port is maintained at a higher temperature than the boiling point of the least volatile component in the sample mixture.

Since the partitioning behavior is dependent on temperature, the separation column is usually contained in a thermostat-controlled oven.

Schematic of a Gas Chromatograph

Separating components with a wide range of boiling points is accomplished by starting at a low oven temperature and increasing the temperature over time to elute the high-boiling point components.

Most columns contain a liquid stationary phase on a solid support. Separation of low-molecular weight gases is accomplished with solid adsorbents.

Separate documents describe some specific GC Columns and GC Detectors.

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