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There are some important considerations in the handling and use of PicoFrit® columns that make them very different from other chromatography columns. PicoFrit columns are fabricated from 360 µm OD, polyimide-coated, fused-silica tubing, as shown in below. One end of the column, referred to as the "tip end," has a specially tapered tip with an integral high-porosity frit. Behind the frit is the packed chromatography bed. There is no frit at the back end of the bed, only unpacked fused-silica tubing. Mobile phase flow must always be directed toward the tip. Reversing the flow may result in partial or complete unpacking of the chromatographybed.
The PicoFrit column is packaged as a loop, with the tip and distal ends protected by a sleeve of snug-fitting FEP (Teflon®) clear tubing. This sleeve keeps both ends of the column at the same pressure during shipping and storage. The loop should not be opened until the column is being prepared for installation and conditioning. Note the label attached to the orange PEEK™ sleeve that slides along the length of the column. The arrow on the label points toward the tip end and indicates the direction of flow. Columns are shipped filled with methanol and need to be conditioned with appropriate mobile phase for your gradient. Finally, since there is no distal frit, the distal end of the column bed may loosen with time. The bed will repack when the column is pressurized.
As an extra precaution against tip damage, leave the FEPsleeve in place over the tip end during initial column conditioningand handling. Remove it from the tip end immediately before mountingthe column on the mass spectrometer.
The inlet end of the PicoFrit column is unfritted. As a result, some unsettling of the chromatography bed can occur along the length of the column tubing during shipping and handling. Always pressurize and condition your column prior to cleaving the tubing to it's final length to avoid loss of the chromatography bed into the waste tubing. See Technical Note FS-1 on how to cleave fused-silica tubing for LC-MS.
There are two methods for storing PicoFit columns. For short term storage, the column tip should be protected using a standard PEEK union and submerged in a vial of solvent. This method can be used safely for a few weeks and up to 2 months. However, long-term storage in methanol and other solvents can cause swelling of the polyimide coating of the tubing, which can affect performance-even causing it to slough off. For long-term storage, remove the column from the box and hang the loop vertically, with the FEP sleeve nearest to the floor. Column reconditioining will most likely be required prior to use.
Download technical note [PDF].