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Polysiloxane Polymers GC Columns

Polysiloxanes are the most common stationary phases. They are available in the greatest variety and are the most stable, robust and versatile. Standard polysiloxanes are characterized by the repeating siloxane backbone (Figure 4). Each silicon atom contains two functional groups. The type and amount of the groups distinguish each stationary phase and its properties.

he most basic polysiloxane is the 100% methyl substituted. When other groups are present, the amount is indicated as the percent of the total number of groups. For example, a 5% diphenyl-95% dimethyl polysiloxane contains 5% phenyl groups and 95% methyl groups. The "di-" prefix indicates that each silicon atom contains two of that particular group. Sometimes this prefix is omitted even though two identical groups are present. If the methyl percentage is not stated, it is understood to be present in the amount necessary to make 100% (e.g., 50% phenyl-methyl polysiloxane contains 50% methyl substitution). Cyanopropylphenyl percent values can be misleading. A 14% cyanopropylphenyl-dimethyl polysiloxane contains 7% cyanopropyl and 7% phenyl (along with 86% methyl). The cyanopropyl and phenyl groups are on the same silicon atom, thus their amounts are summed.

For select stationary phases, a low bleed or "ms" version is available. These stationary phases incorporate phenyl or phenyl type groups into the backbone of the siloxane polymer (Figure 5). These types of stationary phases are commonly called arylenes. The phenyl group strengthens and stiffens the polymer backbone which inhibits stationary phase degradation at higher temperatures. This results in lower column bleed and, in most cases, higher temperature limits. The arylene stationary phase substitution can be adjusted to maintain the same separation characteristics as the original, non-arylene version (e.g., DB-5DB-5msHP-5, or HP-5ms). The separations for the two versions are the same or extremely similar. It is rare, but there may be a slight separation difference between the regular and low bleed versions of a stationary phase. There are some unique low bleed stationary phases with no "regular" equivalent.