All ERA-Chrom columns are manufactured according to a strict established protocol, and within the ISO 9001:2008 quality rules.
Step 1: Hydrothermal Treatment
ERA-Chrom starts its manufacturing process with the selection of the best possible fused silica tubing. This tube presents an extremely reduced tolerance of internal diameters and has a polyimide outer coating capable of withstanding the highest temperatures without loss of its flexible mechanical characteristics. Each one of the batches of silica used in the process is conveniently characterized as an essential step to set the Hydrothermal Treatment conditions (Fig. 1) that will give rise to a surface containing a high and constant density of silanol groups, which will later be properly deactivated. This treatment is indispensable, as the different capillary tubing manufactured batches present an exceptionally low and irregularly distributed silanol group density due to the high temperature manufacturing process (~2000ºC).
Step 2: Deactivation Process
The deactivation process, which is different for each type of stationary phase, is carefully controlled (Fig. 2), ensuring that the tubing surface has acquired the necessary chemical inertness and surface tension in order to be able to proceed with the second stage of stationary phase deposition. This step also facilitates the introduction of specific functional groups on the tubing wall which are very useful for the later binding of the stationary phase or to give the columns a given end point characteristics.
Step 3: Wetting, bonding, and crosslinking
Stationary phase selection for optimum wetting of the column is a critical point regarding column quality. The column manufacturer uses extremely pure polymers for its phases, to guarantee that our columns will respond to the requirements that our customers expect in terms of efficiency, reproducibility, stability, and minimal bleeding. The polymers used are carefully fractionated to eliminate the low molecular weight components and trace catalyst. This results in a higher thermal stability and lower bleeding. Then, these polymers are tested by means of spectroscopic (FTIR, UV, NMR), chromatographic (GPC) techniques and by differential thermal analysis thermogravimetric curve in Fig. 4. The crosslinking and bonding of the stationary phase is achieved by avoiding the use of peroxides which are the cause of many of the problems related to residual activity due to phase degradation and thermal instability exhibited in numerous imported columns. The fact that a given stationary phase is crosslinked and/or chemically bonded to the capillary tube inner wall allows, if necessary, the recovery or regeneration of an accidentally contaminated column by washing it with the adequate series of solvents.
Step 4. Quality Control
Select proven quality.
When you buy an ERA-Chrom capillary column you receive a product designed and manufactured with the aim to help you solve your analytical problems and which meets all of our quality criteria. At the same time, you obtain from our Technical at the assurance that we will be at your side to help you with all the problems and concerns experience in the lab. Each column is individually tested, and the accompanying test data is the proof that the column meets our quality specifications and thus we expect it to meet your demands. Each one of the columns obtained by this process is rigorously controlled by means of a strict Quality Control Test (Fig. 5 and 6), which ensures that you will receive a guaranteed quality product.
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