Capillary Electrophoresis - X-ray Fluorescence

Capillary electrophoresis (CE) has emerged as a strong separation technique for elemental speciation. The lack of a stationary phase allows for short separation times with higher efficiency, higher plate numbers, and smaller bandwidths than high performance liquid chromatography, while simultaneously reducing the likelihood of breaking metal-ligand bonds. Small sample sizes and reagent volumes are used for CE, lending to its high cost-efficiency. UV-visible detection is commonly associated with CE. However, UV-vis is not capable of detecting inorganic ions or metal complexes due to low absorbance of these species. To resolve this limitation, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is used, but the instrumentation is bulky and it is an expensive, destructive technique that requires physical access to the mobile phase through a complex interface.

Non-destructive on-line elemental detection for CE is feasible by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF). New developments in XRF low-power tube and electrically cooled detectors have allowed the miniaturization of XRF instrumentation, and has made it more cost and maintenance efficient. Our project aims to set up a low power XRF-detection system for CE in order to develop an elemental sensitive non-invasive detector for liquid-based separation techniques in complex aqueous matrices. The aim is to provide a cost efficient tool for rapid analysis on water bodies with relatively high degree of contamination including industrial sites, industrial wasteland, coal ash disposal sites runoff and spills.


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