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Suppose I am running a collection of samples on a chromatograph (gas or liquid) in some order. Some of the sample molecules have large retention times due to their size and/or interactions with each other or the stationary phase to such an extreme extent that molecules from the previous sample are still arriving at the detector while molecules from the current sample are arriving at the detector.

What is this problem called? Is it an example of carryover, or would some other term better apply? Or would it be termed "contamination"? Or something else?

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Yes, it is termed "carryover".

Carryover is recognized as the presence of a small analyte peak that appears when a blank is injected following the injection of a sample that produces a large peak of the same analyte. When it occurs, peaks attributed to the previously analyzed sample may be observed in the subsequent chromatogram(s) which may co-elute or interfere with desired analytes.

In a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-based analytical method, carryover denotes one type of systematic error that is derived from a preceding sample and introduced into the next sample.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 from me, "carryover" in its most general sense will work. However in its more specific senses, it can mean specifically the "non-ideal" retention of analytes into the next sample, e.g. by contamination of the autosampler needle. This question is about analytes that interact with the column, which is ideally what's supposed to happen in chromatography, but they're just doing it too strongly. Again, I think "carryover" in its general sense will work OK, but sometimes people do have more specific meanings for this term in mind. $\endgroup$
    – Curt F.
    Aug 21, 2023 at 15:48

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