Field-flow fractionation: analysis of macromolecular, colloidal, and particulate materials

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Science  04 Jun 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5113, pp. 1456-1465
DOI: 10.1126/science.8502990


Field-flow fractionation (FFF) is a family of flexible elution techniques capable of simultaneous separation and measurement. Its sample domain extends across a broad macromolecular-colloidal-particulate continuum from about 1 nanometer to more than 100 micrometers and incorporates both simple and complex macromaterials of biological, biomedical, industrial, and environmental relevance. Complex materials are separated into components to simplify measurement. Component properties measurable by FFF include mass, size, density, charge, diffusivity, and thickness of adsorbed layers. When characterization by these properties is inadequate, other measurement tools can be readily coupled to FFF, either off-line or on-line, by virtue of its flow-elution operation. This article describes the principles and major subtechniques of the FFF family along with application of its measurement and separative capabilities.