Agilent Technologies introduces breakthrough HPLC-chip/MS technology to replace traditional liquid chromatography columns

Polymer chip-based format integrates LC column and MS spray functions; increases ease of use, sensitivity, productivity, and reliability

NASHVILLE, Tenn., ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics, May 24, 2004

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today introduced a breakthrough microfluidics-based technology for liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), which is used by thousands of scientists in protein research and pharmaceutical applications to separate and identify biological compounds. The centerpiece of the new technology is a reusable polymer high-performance LC (HPLC) chip that eliminates the need for traditional LC columns.

"We have drawn on our expertise in microfluidics, mass spectrometry and chromatography to invent the next generation in LC/MS technology," said Chris van Ingen, president of Agilent's Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis group. "Our first HPLC chips will be for proteomics applications, but there are numerous applications for this technology in a wide range of markets. The design of this new device is so flexible that we can envision the incorporation of multidimensional separation and sample preparation onto single chips. The technology's plug-and-play approach makes it easy to use for the nonexpert user."

Smaller than a credit card, the HPLC chip seamlessly integrates the sample enrichment and separation capability of a nanoflow LC system with the intricate connections and spray tips used in electrospray mass spectrometry. The technology eliminates 50 percent of the traditional fittings and connections typically required in an LC/MS system, dramatically reducing the possibility of leaks and dead volumes and significantly improving ease of use, sensitivity, productivity and reliability during analysis.

The second component of the HPLC-chip/MS technology is the HPLC-chip/MS interface. An HPLC chip is inserted into the interface, which mounts on an Agilent mass spectrometer. The design configuration guarantees that the electrospray tip is in the optimal position for mass analysis when the chip is inserted. Replacement of the chip is simple and can be completed in a few seconds as opposed to the minutes required to change out LC columns.

Despite their small size, the HPLC chips can be manufactured to incorporate internal columns up to 20 cm in length and any available packing material used for chromatographic separations. The HPLC-chip/MS technology will be available as a module that is fully compatible with the industry-leading Agilent 1100 Series LC system and Agilentís 1100 Series LC/MS ion trap mass spectrometers.

The HPLC chip is based on technology developed in Agilent Laboratories, Agilent's central research laboratory. It is fabricated using a manufacturing process called laser ablation, which is similar to that used in the production of ink-jet printing cartridges. A laser creates the channels, columns and fluid access ports on the chip by etching the surface of a polymer film. The films are laminated together to form the internal three-dimensional structures and then trimmed with a laser to form the electrospray tip and the final shape of the chip.

Several independent researchers are scheduled to present their experiences with the HPLC-chip/MS technology at the conference here this week. More information about the 52nd annual ASMS conference is available at

About Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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Christina Maehr
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