Reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) is a commonly used separation technique in chemistry. Nevertheless, the mechanistic interactions at the molecular level among the eluent, analyte, and the stationary phase are not fully understood. Because of this limited understanding, optimization of the separation must be done experimentally. Learning more about molecular interactions should aid in improving separations. We are currently using second-harmonic generation (SHG) spectroscopy to investigate how analytes adsorb to the surface. SHG is a spectroscopic technique that produces signal only at places of non-isotropic symmetry; this typically occurs at surfaces. SHG can be used to produce surface isotherms of test analytes adsorbed to a model C18 stationary phase surface. Fitting these isotherms with a Langmuir model produces an adsorption equilibrium constant. However, the equilibrium constant can only be accurately determined if the true bulk concentration is known; this thesis describes an approach to ensure this. The equilibrium constant relates to Gibbs free energy and is the start to obtaining other thermodynamic information. The long equilibration times of analytes with the stationary phase observed in this study emphasize the importance of both thermodynamic information and kinetic values for understanding retention. Once equilibrium constants and other parameters are accurately obtained, this information can be used to improve predictions and calculations from numerical models.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





reversed-phase liquid chromatography, RPLC, C-18, second harmonic generation, SHG, surface isotherms, adsorption, PAH, pyrene