Sidebar: It's Okay To Be Fast

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a mainstay of biological and chemical research, analytical, and production laboratories. After a researcher loads a sample mixture, the instrument pumps mixtures of solvents-usually at high pressures-through a column packed with a material that slows individual compounds to different degrees, separating the substances as they pass through the column. Once the journey is complete, a detector and often an automatic fraction collector are charged with redirecting the solvent stream into separate, purified fractions.

BRAINY: Isco's Foxy 200 collects HPLC fractions by time, volume, or peak.
"Ultimately these systems are a set of pumps, a controller, and a fraction collector," says Roland Strong, a protein crystallographer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who studies protein interactions involved in the mucosal immune system. Strong observes that "there must be hundreds of different types" of separation columns that users...

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