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Do Small Players Really Move Faster?

Team TFS
Team TFS
big and smallWith the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoff season in full swing, it has me thinking about how size matters. It’s not always about the tall, intimidating center position player. What about the guard position player who controls the tempo of the game? In this case, a smaller physical build relative to other teammates is most beneficial.

Successful optimization of speed and data resolution when performing ion chromatography (IC) is largely determined by one of the system’s key players – the infamous separator column. System operators have long struggled with finding a solution which won’t compromise one over the other.

I always wondered why you couldn’t just increase the flow rate or use shorter IC columns to achieve faster run times. Turns out, I forgot about the Van Deemter equation. It tells us that as column particle size decreases, peak efficiency increases.

Ok, but what’s the caveat? Well, a reduction in particle size increases the pressure within the column. For example, pressure can increase by a factor of four if the particle diameter is decreased by a diameter of two. An IC system that can reliably tolerate operating at higher pressures is required.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has invested significant time in re-engineering chromatographic components to build true high-pressure IC (HPIC™) systems. You can learn more about these systems at the dedicated landing page on High-Pressure Ion Chromatography. Additionally, they have developed a range of 4-μm particle size IC columns in various lengths to help optimize speed and resolution for your particular application. Check out this informative video to learn more.

Let’s take a practical example using the Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS22-Fast-4µm column which uses the same polymer bonding technology as the Dionex IonPac AS22-Fast column applied to a smaller resin particle.

The column delivers the same selectivity as the Dionex IonPac AS22-Fast column but with more efficient peaks and higher resolution separations as shown in Figure 2. Another great example of where smaller sizes can do some major heavy lifting when it matters. If you are interested in more application examples, I’d recommend viewing a dedicated e-book on Innovations in High-Pressure IC.


Back to basketball…..I think it’s time I stop rooting for the Yao Mings’, Shaquille O’Neals’ and Dirk Nowitzkis’ of the world and jump on the Stephen Curry bandwagon. I am from Northern California after all!