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 and/or broad peaks with poor purity. In those cases, a technique called dry loading is frequently used.
With all forms of chromatography there are limitations relating to sample load – both mass and volume. These are independent variables which, for the best results, should be investigated separately. In this post, I will address the impact of increasing solvent volume on flash chromatographic separations.
A good question I get asked frequently to which there is no specific value. When asked this question I answer, “it depends on your sample and how good your separation is”; not a satisfying response, but it is the truth.
For many synthetic chemists the primary purification goal is to isolate as much synthetic product as possible with a minimum of 80% purity. The go-to technique for product isolation is flash purification (flash chromatography), especially for intermediates.
I have previously posted on the topic of normal-phase optimization by evaluating different solvent blends or mixtures. I have also touched on reversed-phase method development as well suggesting chemists use HPLC to optimize their purification.
In this post, I will look at the impact modifying mobile phase pH can have on reversed-phase separations.
In previous posts I offered some suggestions to improve the “greenness” of normal-phase flash purification. As the use of reversed-phase flash purification has increased the past few years I thought I would explore how to potentially make it greener too.
So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the use of acetone in place of acetonitrile as a reversed-phase flash chromatography solvent.
Increasingly, organic and medicinal chemistry labs use mass-directed flash chromatography to isolate synthesized compounds. Mass-directed flash chromatography benefits are many, including collecting only the targeted molecule(s) in the reaction mixture. This approach simplifies compound purification since you know what you have made and it's associated mass.
However, there are mass detection nuances that can be challenging. One of these is to know when an acid should be added to the mass detector’s make-up solvent to protonate targeted molecules. In this post, I will provide some insight on this topic.
When developing reversed-phase flash chromatography methods it is important to understand the impact that a change in solvent ratio has on compound retention and, therefore, separation performance. Unlike normal-phase chromatography where you can optimize separations using TLC and a wide variety of solvents and solvent ratios, reversed-phase limits you to 3 to 4 solvents, including water, using either HPLC or small flash columns for method development. Those solvents include:
For most organic and medicinal chemists, normal-phase flash chromatography is used to purify and isolate many types of organic compounds, most with some polar functional groups which help them retain on silica. However, some compound mixtures are water insoluble such as lipids, carotenoids, terpenes, tocopherols, polyaromatic and other hydrocarbons with minimal polar functionality. These lipophilic compounds do not retain well on silica and do not dissolve readily in water making them really difficult to separate.
In this post I will talk about a technique called non-aqueous reversed-phase chromatography that can be very effective at separating and purifying very lipophilic compounds.
As synthetic chemistry has evolved, so has flash chromatography. Target molecule synthesis is becoming more complicated and the synthetic products more polar. This shift in compound polarity has changed purification strategy from almost entirely normal-phase flash chromatography using silica to a significant percentage of flash chromatography now being reversed-phase during the past 9 or so years.
Scaling up reversed-phase flash chromatography methods is often necessary as reaction scale increases. This is especially true when other non-chromatographic purification techniques do not work or meet purity and/or yield needs.
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.
For medicinal chemists, maximizing the synthetic yield of their newly created intermediate compound is their priority. More times than not, flash chromatography is used to purify these intermediate compounds to at least 80% purity. Final compounds, however, not only require high yield but maximum attainable purity, typically in excess of 95%. For this purity level, chemists will either send the reaction mixture to an in-house prep HPLC lab or perform their own preparative HPLC compound purification, if it is available in the lab.
In my previous post, I talked about the "Chemistry Behind Normal-phase Flash Chromatography", the most common form of liquid-solid chromatography. In this post, I focus on reversed-phase flash chromatography and how it differs from normal-phase.
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).
With reversed-phase flash column chromatography becoming increasingly popular for routine purification, understanding how to make the cartridges last (since they cost more) is important to know.
In this post I will mention a few tips to prolong reversed-phase cartridge life.