High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)


High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a form of liquid chromatography to separate compounds that are dissolved in solution. HPLC instruments consist of a reservoir of mobile phase, a pump, an injector, a separation column, and a detector. Compounds are separated by injecting a plug of the sample mixture onto the column. The different components in the mixture pass through the column at different rates due to differences in their partitioning behavior between the mobile liquid phase and the stationary phase.


Solvents must be degassed to eliminate formation of bubbles. The pumps provide a steady high pressure with no pulsating, and can be programmed to vary the composition of the solvent during the course of the separation. Detectors rely on a change in refractive index, UV-VIS absorption, or fluorescence after excitation with a suitable wavelength. The different types of HPLC columns are described in a separate document.

Schematic of an HPLC instrument

Picture of an HPLC instrument

Close up of column / Close up of injector

Further Information

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Copyright © 1996 by Brian M. Tissue

/chem-ed/sep/lc/hplc.htm, updated 6/18/96