Multichrom, Ltd

The capillary columns to be discovered by M.J.E. Golay have significantly lower resistance for a carrier gas then the packed columns. They allowed to achieve the efficiency of a separation tens times greater then before at a comparatively small differential of pressure across the column.

Almost simultaneously with it fast separations were obtained on short capillary columns of small diameters. However the fast chromatography did not gain a wide acceptance till recently. Such a situation is due to the drastic restriction on volume and mass of an analyzed sample, which is caused by smallness of a diameter of the capillary column suitable to fast separations. As a result there were two possibilities: either to analyze only comparatively big concentrations of substances or to compress the samples very strongly with the help of complicated devices.

Another way to improve state of fast chromatography was to increase the sample volume by applying a bundle of identical capillary columns, namely applying a multicapillary column (MCC). Unfortunately, this simple idea turned out to be very complicated in implementation. Here is how M.J.E. Golay said about it in 1988: ”…I must tell you about the imaginary Loch Ness monster of chromatography. Now you all know, I’m sure, about the real Loch Ness monster which breaks the surface of the water in a little Scottish lake and shows its droll head for a while. But as soon as it sees photographers appear it dives under again where it stays for quite a while, maybe five or ten years.
…The Loch Ness monster of chromatography behaves in the same manner. That monster is the idea that you could take a hundred capillary columns all of the same length, all having within one tenth of one percent the same time of passage for like components and have that true for all components and at all temperatures. It is really a quite monstrous idea, which deserves to be pushed down again, and it is. But then it reappears again five or ten years later. Others have pushed it down; I have done so three times. I did it in Amsterdam in 1958, I did it in Hindelang in 1975, and more recently again …” ( M.J.E. Golay, JHRC&CC, 1988, v.11, January, pp.6-8).

The first operative multicapillary column (MCC) has been developed by a group of investigators from research institutes of Novosibirsk’s Akademgorodok, Russia, in the 80’s of the last century.

 Sibertech Ltd. and then Multichrom Ltd. continued R&D works and created the multicapillary columns as goods of merchantable quality. The portable gas chromatograph EKHO (1988) was the first instrument, in which the MCC was used for fast separations of explosives and pesticides.

Now Multichrom, LLC, produces a very extensive assortment of the multicapillary columns. The columns are applied for carrying out chromatographic separations in different scopes of human activity: in science and in industry, in criminalistics and in geological prospecting, and so on.


M.J.E. Golay, 1960 (photo)
M.J.E. Golay, 1960.
Golay’s chromatogram

Fractogram from Golay’s USA patent “Vapor fractometer column”  No2920478; it was obtained with the capillary column 32 feet long, having an inside diameter of 0.001 inch. A graduation on the abscissa axis is equal to one second. Peaks: air, acetone, methylene chloride.


Cross-section of a multicapillary column

Cross-section of a MCC.


Portable chromatograph EKHO-M

Chromatograph EKHO-M.


Explosives separation on EKHO-M

Chromatogram of trinitrotoluene cartridge vapor


Multicapillary column unit for the chromatograph EKHO, 1988
Appearance of the multicapillary column unit for the chromatograph EKHO, 1988

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