Putting GCxGC to Work in Your Laboratory


Research Hype to Practical Analysis Part I: Benefits of Comprehensive Two-
Dimensional Gas Chromatography (GCxGC) for a Routine Laboratory

Authored by: Michelle Misselwitz

Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) is a technique that has been around for over 25 years. Some may argue that the technique has been over-hyped, and that it is a complicated research tool that doesn't fit into routine analytical laboratories. However, several routine validated GCxGC methods have demonstrated that the technique is accurate, precise, and robust. Research has shown the benefits of GCxGC in a wide variety of applications (e.g. environmental, metabolomics, petroleum, food safety, fragrance). The benefits include increased peak capacity (i.e. resolution), structured two-dimensional chromatograms (i.e. contour plots), and sensitivity enhancement. The merits of GCxGC as a separation science are clear, but how will it benefit a routine laboratory? Multiple analyte classes can be combined into a single analysis to save instrument and sample preparation time. Manual review time for non-target screening methods can be reduced with the increased peak resolution of a GCxGC analysis by creating a better library match leading to faster, more confident peak identification. Sample characterization is improved with a GCxGC analysis which increases confidence in decisions based on analytical results. The extra resolution afforded by the GCxGC analysis allows the use of more economical detectors, like the flame ionization detector (FID) or electron capture detector (ECD).


Overview of GCxGC: Peaks eluting from the 1st dimension column enter the 2nd dimension column through the modulator. The modulator rapidly traps the effluent from the primary column and “injects” this effluent to the secondary column. A fast detector simultaneously records the 1st dimension retention time and 2nd dimension retention time. A linear chromatogram is used for quantitation (e.g. integration, peak area, peak height, S/N), and the contour plot is a topographic type surface that is useful for data review and display purposes.

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