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25 October 2019

From lab to briefcase – King's Chemistry researchers develop miniaturised portable chromatography instrument

A team of researchers led by the Department of Chemistry’s Salehi-Reyhani research group has developed a miniaturised high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instrument to enhance the practical exercise of analytical chemistry across an array of industries.

Stelios Chatzimichail and Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani
Stelios Chatzimichail and Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani

HPLC is a gold standard analytical technique that can identify and quantify chemical markers in liquid mixtures. It is used in many industries, ranging from environmental and agricultural analysis to clinical diagnostic testing and counterfeits identification. Current field-based research is often hampered by separation between the point of sampling and point of testing, which in some cases can be thousands of miles apart and challenging to precious samples that may degrade over time. The team’s development of a miniaturised and portable HPLC instrument seeks to bridge this disconnect between the lab and field, thus opening research to new opportunities.

In contrast to its large, delicate and fridge-sized predecessors, this new HPLC model heralds a new generation of smaller and lighter portable systems for chemical analysis through developments in detector, valve and column technology – in being roughly the size of a small briefcase, composed of rugged material and being able to withstand drops from a small height without hampering activity. Key to this downsizing was a new approach to pumping technology, which has also been designed to prolong battery life; thus also holding potential for use in demanding environments around the world.

This research has been featured in the Royal Society of Chemistry Analyst journal, and the team hopes to inspire others to pursue further innovation in the field. Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani, group leader, commented;

“Our research is focussed on developing novel instrumentation that will support chemistry in the future, much as the efforts of our predecessors support chemistry today.”