Retention mechanisms in micellar liquid chromatography

M J Ruiz-Angel, S Carda-Broch, J R Torres-Lapasió, M C García-Alvarez-Coque
Journal of Chromatography. A 2009 March 6, 1216 (10): 1798-814
Micellar liquid chromatography (MLC) is a reversed-phase liquid chromatographic (RPLC) mode with mobile phases containing a surfactant (ionic or non-ionic) above its critical micellar concentration (CMC). In these conditions, the stationary phase is modified with an approximately constant amount of surfactant monomers, and the solubilising capability of the mobile phase is altered by the presence of micelles, giving rise to diverse interactions (hydrophobic, ionic and steric) with major implications in retention and selectivity. From its beginnings in 1980, the technique has evolved up to becoming a real alternative in some instances (and a complement in others) to classical RPLC with hydro-organic mixtures, owing to its peculiar features and unique advantages. This review is aimed to describe the retention mechanisms (i.e. solute interactions with both stationary and mobile phases) in an MLC system, revealed in diverse reports where the retention behaviour of solutes of different nature (ionic or neutral exhibiting a wide range of polarities) has been studied in a variety of conditions (with ionic and non-ionic surfactants, added salt and organic solvent, and varying pH). The theory is supported by several mechanistic models that describe satisfactorily the retention behaviour, and allow the measurement of the strength of solute-stationary phase and solute-micelle interactions. Suppression of silanol activity, steric effects in the packing pores, anti-binding behaviour, retention of ionisable compounds, compensating effect on polarity differences among solutes, and the contribution of the solvation parameter model to elucidate the interactions in MLC, are commented.

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