Section: 8 | Stationary Phases for Porous-Layer Open Tubular Columns |
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How to Cite this Reference
The recommended form of citation is:
John R. Rumble, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 103rd Edition (Internet Version 2022), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.
If a specific table is cited, use the format: "Physical Constants of Organic Compounds," in CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 103rd Edition (Internet Version 2022), John R. Rumble, ed., CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.


Thomas J. Bruno and Paris D. N. Svoronos

The practical application of solid adsorbents in capillary chromatography typically makes use of porous-layer open tubular (PLOT) columns. Early capillary PLOT columns suffered from detector spiking due to particulates becoming dislodged and entering the detector. This was resolved by placing a short length of a polymeric column (usually polydimethyl siloxane) as a particle trap before the detector; however, recent advances in manufacturing methods have resulted in nearly complete binding of particles on the inside of the column. In this table, several common PLOT column stationary phases are listed, along with their major separation applications and additional information. The maximum temperatures listed represent the point of severe resolution loss. The materials are often chemically stable to much higher temperatures. The user should also be aware that the adsorption of water during use will often change retention characteristics dramatically, sometimes resulting in a reversal of positions of adjacent peaks. This can result from traces of water in the carrier gas. Due to surface adsorption of solutes, some experimentation with temperature may be necessary to prevent tailing or to avoid statistical correlation (or a propagating error) among replicate analyses (Ref. 5). Note that PLOT columns have been used in HPLC for the separation of large molecules such as proteins; this table is limited to smaller molecules.

Column definitions for the table are as follows.

Column heading Definition
Phase Solid adsorbent phase used in PLOT column
tmax Temperature at which the column begins to realize severe losses, in °C
Application Typical applications
Notes Comments


  1. Jeffery, P. G., and Kipping, P. J., Gas Analysis by Gas Chromatography, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1972.
  2. Cowper, C. J., and DeRose, A. J., The Analysis of Gases by Chromatography, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1983. []
  3. Breck, D. W., Zeolite Molecular Sieves, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1973.
  4. Poole, C. F., The Essence of Chromatography, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003.
  5. Bruno, T. J., and Svoronos, P. D. N., CRC Handbook of Basic Tables for Chemical Analysis – Data-Driven Methods and Interpretation, Fourth Edition, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 2021. []

Characteristics of Stationary Phases

Silica gel250H2, Air, CO, C1 to C4 normal hydrocarbons, alkenes and alkynes, inorganic gases, volatile ethersVery hydrophilic; requires activation; can be unpredictable; largely replaced by porous polymers; bonded versions are suitable for use with GC-MS because of the absence of particles
Alumina, deactivated with KCl250C1 to C8 hydrocarbons, especially useful for resolution of propadiene and butadiene from ethylene and propyleneLeast polar of the alumina phases; lowest retention of olefins relative to the corresponding paraffin; specified in many standard methods; will adsorb water and CO2
Alumina, deactivated with Na2SO4250C1 to C8 hydrocarbons, resolves acetylene from butane and propylene from isobutaneMedium and high polarity phases are available among the alumina phases; specified in many standard methods
Cyclodextrins260Light hydrocarbons (C1 to C10) and halocarbonsα- and β-cyclodextrins have been used; care should be taken with halocarbon analysis due to the potential of HF contamination of the sample; see the information on cyclodextrin phases in Ref. 5
Styrene – divinylbenzene250C1 to C3 hydrocarbons; paraffins up to C12; CO from air, ethers, sulfur gases, waterSee the information on porous polymers in Ref. 5
Divinylbenzene ethylene glycol dimethacrylate280C1 to C7 hydrocarbon isomers; CO2, CH4, amines, common solvents, alcohols, aldehydes, ketonesMore polar than styrene – divinyl benzene phases
Molecular sieve, 5A350Air and light gas analysis; H2, O2, N2, (CH4, CO, NO, SF6 co-elute); He, Ne, Xe, Kr (N2 and Kr elute closely); thick coating phase can resolve Ar from O2 at 35 °C; deuterated hydrocarbonsSynthetic calcium alumino-silicate (zeolite) having an effective pore diameter of 0.5 nm CO2 is adsorbed strongly; 5A usually gives the best results of all synthetic zeolites; thick and thin film columns are available; easy to foul with hydrocarbons; will adsorb water and CO2
Molecular sieve, 13X350Same separations as those performed on 5A, but with C1 to C4, alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes being separated as wellSodium alumino-silicate (zeolite) having a larger pore size than 0.5 nm, thus producing lower retention times and less resolution; 28.6% (mass/mass) water capacity
Monolithic carbon350C1 to C5 hydrocarbon isomers; acetylene in ethylene; methanePhase consists of a bonded carbon monolith; historically more suitable for use with GC-MS because of the absence of particles

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