ion-chromatographyAs I stared blankly at the painting in front of me in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) last weekend, my friend walked by and muttered, “You need to apply multi-dimensional thinking.” Many will argue that one must be free to consume art in the way that they please, but my friend clearly had never heard such a perspective. She would say she was simply suggesting an alternative approach. In this approach, I not only contemplate what is in front of me, but also speculate what types of events motivated the painter to create such a piece.

Speaking of alternative approaches or techniques, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has approved Thermo Fisher Method 557.1 which uses Two-Dimensional Ion Chromatography (2-D IC) for the determination of Haloacetic acids (HAAs) in drinking water. Thermo Fisher Scientific has collaborated with the U.S. EPA to develop this direct injection method utilizing 2-D IC. The U.S. EPA has already approved two 2-D IC methods, one for the determination of bromate (Method 302) and another for perchlorate (Method 314.2).

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Anions, including bromate, perchlorate and HAAs, can require post-column derivatization or coupling with mass spectrometers for detection, following separation by ion chromatography. 2-D IC is an alternative technique where a sample is first separated from the matrix on either a 2 mm or 4 mm inside diameter (i.d.) IC separator column and transferred to a concentrator column. The analytes are then separated on a second separator column (typically of a smaller i.d.) with different selectivity. Analytes are detected using suppressed conductivity detection. This technique is ideal when performing trace analysis in the presence of a high concentration of interfering matrix ions. Without having to perform extensive sample preparation, you achieve improved selectivity and signal enhancement.  I would recommend this quick 3 minute video to learn more about how 2-D IC works.

Thinking back to my inability to appreciate abstract art to my friend’s expectations, I guess the benefits of taking a two- or multi-dimensional approach can extend beyond life in the laboratory. Whoever thought science and art don’t have any commonalities clearly wasn’t thinking things through!