Normal-phase flash chromatography is an integral component of the organic synthesis workflow. Since reactions rarely generate 100% pure product, they need purification and flash chromatography is the most utilized tool for that task.
For my purification blog I often will synthesize compounds so I can show representative, real-world reaction product purification. In doing so, I decided I would also post on the impact of various synthesis variable. This post looks at the impact of reaction temperature time on an amide synthesis.
Think of orthogonal flash chromatography as 2D-chromatography where a reaction mixture or natural product extract is purified first with one methodology or solvent gradient then re-purified with a different method or solvent pair in order to remove co-eluting impurities. This is a technique practiced in medicinal chemistry, especially for final compound purification, when the final product is purified first with normal-phase flash followed by reversed-phase prep HPLC.
There are two general flash chromatography techniques...
Flash chromatography is a purification technique used by chemists to isolate their targeted compound from by-products and impurities. Because the reaction mixture (or natural product extract) may have its best solubility in a solvent that is chromatographically “stronger” than the mobile phase, liquid sample loading can be problematic causing early-eluting, broad peaks which can reduce purification efficacy and product purity. In those cases, a technique called dry loading is a better alternative.
Flash chromatography is a standard part of an organic chemist’s workflow. It is utilized after most reaction steps in order to remove most of the generated by-products and excess reagents.
The bane of organic synthesis for most chemists is purification rather than synthesis. Synthetic reaction mixtures are rarely devoid of impurities so some type of purification is necessary. Most often flash chromatography is used but for many chemists, it is less well understood than their chemical reaction and provides some level of anxiety.
In this post, I will summarize the five most important steps to creating a successful flash chromatography method and thus the anxiety associated with it.
This is an interesting question that I am asked from time to time. There does seem to be two camps in which chemists reside – one believing longer and thinner columns provide better separations and the other preferring shorter and fatter columns to do the same chromatography.
Which is right? That is a question I will try to answer based on my own data.
Recently, I posted an article explaining why high performance TLC plates are not needed for method development for high-performance flash chromatography. Based on some excellent feedback, I see a need to discuss silica chemistry and its impact on chromatography.
Have you ever run flash column chromatography with mass detection (Flash-MS) and observed the total ion current or TIC increase during the purification only to find that there was no discernible compound contributing to the effect?
In this post I discuss how I came across this issue and the solution I found to work.
The products of organic synthesis are designed with specific functional groups in order to possess desired properties. Depending on the compound’s functionality, it can be neutral, acidic, or basic as determined by a compound measurement called pKa or acid dissociation constant. Compounds with low pKa are typically acidic while those with high pKa tend to be basic. Compounds with a pKa near 7 are deemed neutral.
Our clientele at Biotage have interesting and diverse backgrounds from highly skilled synthetic chemists, to experts in natural product chemistry, to those who are just beginning they journey with chemistry. What I have learned over my 40+ year career in the “art” of chromatography is that for many of these fine folks there is a lack of understanding about chromatographic principles. This lack of understanding, I believe, is only due to their core study curriculum where separation science is used as a tool during lab work but the principles behind why a mixture’s components separate (or do not separate) perhaps are not effectively explained, understood, or studied.
The challenges organic, medicinal, and natural product chemists face are many: from designing reactions, to optimizing synthesis, work-up / extraction, and purification / isolation of the desired compound or compounds. Among those issues related to purification / isolation is the common problem of separating compounds with similar chemistry that either co-elute or separate poorly.
In this post I will discuss some tips on how to "resolve" this issue (yes, pun intended).
Usually, a 2-solvent or binary gradient will separate your desired compound from the by-products and impurities. Sometimes though, you can encounter a mixture in which some compounds co-elute and are not separable with any binary gradient you try.
I encountered this situation recently while trying to purify a lavender essential oil and have dedicated this post to how I solved the problem.
Are you observing more chromatographic peaks than you expect compared to TLC or other assessment data? Well, it could be that your method is separating some isomers or, it could be that there is an actual method issue.
In this post I will discuss what could cause a method issue and suggest some ideas as to how to fix it.
In a previous post I talked about column size, specifically long-thin versus short-fat and the impact of the cartridge’s dimensions on purification performance. With that comparison I showed that in preparative chromatography, purification efficiency is more about the amount of silica than column dimensions. Cartridges of different dimensions containing the same amount of the same media will provide the same separation efficiency.