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Exceptional Sensitivity with Extremely Low Background Signal

Coupling TLC plates with mass spectrometry (TLC-MS) is a new field of high interest in planar chromatography. One particular advantage of TLC-MS is the flexibility it offers in the choice of mobile phases for separations. In comparison, HPLC-MS coupling does not allow the use of certain mobile phases, such as inorganic buffers.

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TLC-MS Coupling Techniques

The techniques for coupling TLC with mass spectrometry can be divided into elution-based, or desorption-based. Both approaches are offline, and are performed after the separation is completed and the plate dried. Sample transfer to the mass spectrometer is fast and typically takes less than one minute.

Elution-based TLC-MS

The analyte on the silica plate is dissolved in a solvent and transferred to the mass spectrometer in the liquid phase.

Desorption-based TLC-MS
The analyte is vaporized from the silica, and transferred to the mass spectrometer in the gas phase. Vaporization techniques include gas beam, ion bombardment, and MALDI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization).

Features and Benefits

  • Enhanced sensitivity
  • Extremely low background signal
  • Trace analysis in nanogram range
  • Flexible choice of mobile phases

MS-Grade Plates from a Leader in TLC

Merck introduced the first pre-coated plates on the market. We were also the first to offer glass plates for coupling planer chromatography with mass spectrometry. Our most recent developments in the field are our MS-grade TLC and HPTLC plates. The separation performance of these products is equivalent to our standard TLC and HPTLC plates. The only difference is that the new plates are much cleaner, and allow trace analysis in the nanogram range. Furthermore, our MS-grade plates offer exceptional sensitivity with extremely low background signal, as verified by the experiments below.


Low Background Signal

The comparison below demonstrates the very low background signal of Merck’s MS-grade plates.

a) LC-MS background signal measurement on a HPTLC silica gel 60 F254 standard plate 20 x 10 cm with mobile phase ACN/water (95/5).


b) LC-MS background measurement on a HPTLC silica gel 60 F254 MS-grade plate, 20 x 10 cm with mobile phase ACN/water (95/5).


Enhanced Sensitivity

Figure C depicts the trace measurement of caffeine on Merck’s HPTLC-MS grade plate. The results clearly show the exceptional sensitivity of the plate.

c) ESI-MS mass spectrum of caffeine, measured from a 20 nanogram TLC spot. Plate: HPTLC silica gel 60 F254 MS-grade 25 glass plates 20x10cm Sample: 20 ng caffeine (MH+) 195.1 Mobile phase: ACN/water (95/5) + 0.1% formic acid

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