Reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) is a widely used technique for analytical separations but routinely requires empirical optimization. Gaining a better understanding of the molecular reasons for retention may mean more efficient separations with fewer trial and error runs to obtain optimized separations. Vibrationally resonant sum frequency generation (VR-SFG) is a surface specific technique that has allowed for in situ examination of model RPLC stationary phases under various solvent and pressure conditions. In order to improve on past work with model RPLC stationary phases two challenges had to be overcome. First, improved vibrational mode assignments of the C18 stationary phase were needed for proper understanding of this model system. Second, the synthesis of back-surface reference mirrors used in these VR-SFG experiments allowed us to better correct the relative intensities of the various spectral peaks present in typical spectra. After examination of model RPLC systems under various conditions, we have found that these model substrates have a significant amount of interference from nonresonant signal. This interference of resonant and nonresonant signals on fused silica surfaces has not been previously examined and further studies of the model RPLC stationary phase must properly deal with the non-negligible nonresonant interference that is present. We have seen changes in the VR-SFG spectra of these model systems under a variety of conditions including elevated pressure, however the changes are mostly due to nonresonant interference. These spectral changes, although apparently not solely from structural changes, need to be investigated further to better understand the molecular basis of retention in model RPLC systems.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





reversed-phase liquid chromatography, sum frequency generation, vibrationally resonant sum frequency generation, back surface gold mirrors, variable time delay