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This module is to explain the basic working principles and setups of supercritical fluid chromatography and supercritical fluid extraction methods.


The discovery of supercritical fluids led to novel analytical applications in the fields of chromatography and extraction known as supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE). Supercritical fluid chromatography is accepted as a column chromatography methods along with gas chromatography (GC) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Due to to the properties of supercritical fluids, SFC combines each of the advantages of both GC and HPLC in one method. In addition, supercritical fluid extraction is an advanced analytical technique.

Definition and formation of supercritical fluids

A supercritical fluid is the phase of a material at critical temperature and critical pressure of the material. Critical temperature is the temperature at which a gas cannot become liquid as long as there is no extra pressure; and, critical pressure is the minimum amount of pressure to liquefy a gas at its critical temperature. Supercritical fluids combine useful properties of gas and liquid phases, as it can behave like both a gas and a liquid in terms of different aspects. A supercritical fluid provides a gas-like characteristic when it fills a container and it takes the shape of the container. The motion of the molecules are quite similar to gas molecules. On the other hand, a supercritical fluid behaves like a liquid because its density property is near liquid and, thus, a supercritical fluid shows a similarity to the dissolving effect of a liquid.

The characteristic properties of a supercritical fluid are density, diffusivity and viscosity. Supercritical values for these features take place between liquids and gases. [link] demonstrates numerical values of properties for gas, supercritical fluid and liquid.

Supercritical fluid properties compared to liquids and gases
Gas Supercritical fluid Liquid
Density (g/cm 3 ) 0.6 x 10 -3 – 2.0 x 10 -3 0.2 - 0.5 0.6 - 2.0
Diffusivity (cm 2 /s) 0.1 - 0.4 10 -3 - 10 -4 0.2 x 10 -5 - 2.0 x 10 -5
Viscosity (cm/s) 1 x 10 -4 - 3 x 10 -4 1 x 10 -4 - 3 x 10 -4 0.2 x 10 -2 - 3.0 x 10 -2

The formation of a supercritical fluid is the result of a dynamic equilibrium. When a material is heated to its specific critical temperature in a closed system, at constant pressure, a dynamic equilibrium is generated. This equilibrium includes the same number of molecules coming out of liquid phase to gas phase by gaining energy and going in to liquid phase from gas phase by losing energy. At this particular point, the phase curve between liquid and gas phases disappears and supercritical material appears.

In order to understand the definition of SF better, a simple phase diagram can be used. [link] displays an ideal phase diagram. For a pure material, a phase diagram shows the fields where the material is in the form of solid, liquid, and gas in terms of different temperature and pressure values. Curves, where two phases (solid-gas, solid-liquid and liquid-gas) exist together, defines the boundaries of the phase regions. These curves, for example, include sublimation for solid-gas boundary, melting for solid-liquid boundary, and vaporization for liquid-gas boundary. Other than these binary existence curves, there is a point where all three phases are present together in equilibrium; the triple point (TP).

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Physical methods in chemistry and nano science. OpenStax CNX. May 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10699/1.21
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