Why Was Gas Chromatography Invented?

If you’ve ever wondered why was gas chromatography invented, you’re not alone. Women are pioneers in many fields, including biotechnology, agriculture, and biomedical research. And while you’re learning about their contributions, you’ll discover why gas chromatography is important for your work. Here’s a closer look at the history of GC and its evolution. Whether you’re using the technology for your next drug discovery or investigating the science behind your favorite ice cream, this article will help you learn more about their importance.


Gas chromatography, or GC, is a technique for separating components in a sample by ionization. It works by separating the sample into components by using a stationary phase (liquid or solid) and an inert carrier gas (hydrogen or nitrogen). Depending on the composition of the samples, each component can be separated from the others by determining its boiling point, polarity, and retention time. GC/MS can resolve mixtures with hundreds of compounds, and even analyze samples from the surface of Mars.

In the mid-1960s, a quadrupole placed in the throat of a diffusion pump was novel but soon became obsolete as ion pumps evolved. A turbomolecular pump replaced the cumbersome diffusion pump, and an oil-free vacuum system improved operability and maintenance. As the GC/MS developed, it became more advanced and widely used. Nowadays, GC/MS is a useful tool for trace analysis.

GC/MS is useful for screening for genetic metabolic disorders, and can identify trace amounts of many compounds. It is also used to test for the presence of oil in cosmetics and lotions. GC/MS is also used for monitoring environmental pollutants, including dibenzofurans and dioxins. It is also capable of detecting various types of herbicides, pesticides, and phenols.

This technology has become indispensable in the world of chemical analysis. It helps detect chemical compounds by their chromatographic retention time. Even two chemical compounds that share the same retention time, can be detected using GC/MS. In contrast, GC/MS allows for more accurate identification of trace amounts and metabolites. This makes it a superior method for trace analysis. However, it must be noted that GC/MS is still far from perfect. Its use in the pharmaceutical industry is limited to a few countries.

GC/MS has two main components: an ionization source and a mass separator. The first component is known as the mass detector, and it is a scaled-down version of the mass spectrometer. The mass detector is placed at the end of a chromatographic column. The latter is more complex than FID and requires a complex separation and detection process. This means that it is the preferred choice of most laboratories.


The basic theory of GC is that, under constant method conditions, the retention time of a sample determines its identity. When the retention time is constant, chromatographic peaks can be identified to be the analytes present in the sample. While chromatographic retention times may be sufficient to identify individual components in mixtures, they are not sufficient to distinguish between mixtures. Therefore, Fred McLafferty and Roland Gohlke enhanced GC by coupling it with MS. This method enables individual components to be identified and quantified.

The GC is made up of six parts: the carrier gas, the autosampler, the analytical column, the detector, and the PC. The carrier gas vaporizes the chemical components present in the sample mixture and then transfers them to the analytical column. The analytical column is filled with solid particles, which are subjected to different chemical properties, and the separation of these compounds takes place in the analytical column. The vaporized mixture subsequently passes through a detector, and the signal produced corresponds to the relative amount of each component.

The method has become widely used and is a powerful analytical tool in the field of forensics. Forensic science, environmental monitoring, and drug testing all benefit from the gas chromatography technique. It was first used in the mid-fifties by Dow Chemical scientists. Today, the GC/MS technique is used in numerous fields, from environmental monitoring to pharmaceutical drug discovery. It is a fast and accurate method for identifying unknown chemicals.

In the beginning, GCs did not have an electronic controller to regulate the carrier gas flow rate. The flow rate was manually determined with an electronic flow meter or a bubble flow meter. This method was time-consuming, frustrating, and involved. It was also difficult to adjust the carrier gas inlet pressure during a run, making the flow rate constant throughout the entire analysis. Today, GCs can be adjusted with a pressure/flow program, which allows them to achieve the optimum mixture of gases or chemicals.

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