With so many HPLC detector options, how do you know which one is the right fit?
An essential component of every chromatography instrument is the detector. You cannot see or measure the concentration of your analytes without one and using a detector incompatible with the target compound(s), like choosing a UV-Vis detector for analytes without chromophores, is a waste of your time and money.
There are a lot of HPLC detector options to consider – UV-Vis, fluorescence, charged aerosol detection mass spectrometry … the list goes on.
Let’s look at how to choose the best detector for your application.
Choosing an HPLC detector is a lot like buying shoes
When I walk into a shoe store, I usually have in mind what type of activity I plan to do in those shoes. For example, I might want an everyday shoe that matches most outfits, a sturdy hiking boot for rough, uneven terrain, or a specialty shoe for tap dancing. Each of these shoes has a purpose, and some for multiple activities.
Shoe buying isn’t that different than buying an HPLC detector. To understand which detector suits your work, you first should determine what type of analyte you want to detect and the relevant physiochemical properties of the compound.
For example, if you are working with amino acids derivatized with a fluorescent tag, consider using a fluorescence detector. For those who like to avoid pre- or post-column derivatization, you would enjoy detection from a super versatile, universal charged aerosol detector (CAD) (to get an idea of all the applications CAD is used for, check out this bibliography).
HPLC detector types
Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a wide variety of detectors to cover all HPLC applications. This table will help you determine which HPLC detector you should consider based on an analyte’s physiochemical properties:
I hope this chart helps your decision on which HPLC detector to use a little easier and less daunting than shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. Remember, the detector application is largely dependent on the structure of the analyte.