Design, Fabrication, and Evaluation of Microfabricated Columns for Gas Chromatography

Gordon Lambertus, Andrea Elstro, Kathryn Sensenig, Joseph Potkay, Masoud Agah, Susan Scheuering, Kensall Wise, Frank Dorman, Richard Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


The design, fabrication, and performance of gas chromatography columns etched in silicon substrates are described. Deep reactive-ion etching formed the 3-m-long, 150-μm-wide, 240-μm-deep rectangular cross section channels. A glass cover plate was anodically bonded to the remaining surface of the substrate forming the gastight channel. For some of the columns, the silicon channels were oxidized before the channels were sealed with the glass plates. Fused-silica capillary connecting tubes were sealed into ports on the edge of the 3.2-cm × 3.2-cm substrate chips. Dynamic coating was used to deposit a film of nonpolar dimethyl polysiloxane or moderately polar trifluoropropylmethyl polysiloxane stationary phase. The columns were evaluated in a conventional benchtop GC instrument with split injection and flame ionization detection. Column efficiency was evaluated by the use of plots of height equivalent to a theoretical plate versus average carrier gas velocity using both hydrogen and air as carrier gases. The number of theoretical plates measured at the average carrier gas velocity giving the minimum plate height ranged from 4600 to 8200 plates for the dimethyl polysiloxane columns and from 3500 to 5500 plates for the trifluoropropylmethyl polysiloxane columns. Minimum plate height was significantly smaller with air as carrier gas. For the nonpolar phase, the nonoxidized surface gave ∼1500 plates more than the oxidized surface for both carrier gases. For the polar phase, the oxidized surface gave ∼200 plates more than the nonoxidized surface. Isothermal chromatograms of a 20-component multifunctional mixture and temperature-programmed chromatograms of a normal alkane mixture are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2629-2637
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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