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GPC/SEC Sample Preparation

GPC/SEC Sample Preparation

A Guide on How to Prepare Samples for GPC/SEC Analysis by PolyAnalytik Inc.

Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC), also known as Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC), is a powerful analytical technique used for the separation and characterization of polymers and macromolecules based on their molecular size. Proper sample preparation is crucial to ensure accurate and reliable results in GPC analysis. In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to prepare samples for GPC analysis.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin, gather all the necessary materials and equipment:

  • Samples: The polymer or macromolecule samples you want to analyze.
  • Solvent: Use a compatible solvent to dissolve your sample without altering its molecular structure.
  • Sample Vials: Clean and dry sample vials, preferably made of glass or high-quality polymer.
  • Syringe: A clean, calibrated syringe with a volume appropriate for your sample size.
  • Filtration Membranes: If necessary, choose the appropriate pore size and material for filtering out particulate matter.

Step 2: Sample Preparation

  1. Weighing: Accurately weigh your polymer sample. Record the weight for later calculations.
  2. Dissolution: Place the weighed sample into a clean, dry vial. Add an appropriate volume of the chosen solvent to dissolve the sample completely. Ensure thorough mixing by gently shaking or stirring the vial. It’s essential to maintain sample homogeneity.
  3. Filtration: If your sample contains particulate matter or undissolved impurities, filter it through a membrane filter to remove any debris. This step is critical to prevent blockages in the GPC column.
  4. Degassing: To eliminate air bubbles, degas the solution by either using a vacuum chamber or by sonication. Air bubbles can interfere with the GPC analysis, leading to inaccurate results.

Step 3: Calibration Standards

For accurate molecular weight determination in GPC analysis, it’s essential to run calibration standards alongside your sample. Calibration standards are polymers of known molecular weights. Inject a series of standard solutions with known molecular weights to create a calibration curve. This curve is used to determine the molecular weight of your sample based on its elution volume.

Calibration standards are required for both conventional analysis and triple detection (viscometry, RI, MALS) analysis. Triple detection setups need to have a broad and narrow Pd standard run in order to ensure that the triple detection setup is properly set up.

Step 4: Sample Injection

  1. Syringe Filling: Use the calibrated syringe with your prepared sample solution. Be careful not to introduce any air bubbles into the syringe.
  2. Sample Injection: Inject the sample solution into the GPC instrument’s sample loop or injection port, ensuring a smooth and steady injection process.

Step 5: GPC Analysis

Once your sample is injected into the GPC system, it will pass through a column packed with porous beads. Larger molecules will elute first, followed by smaller ones. The elution times are recorded, and the calibration curve is used to calculate the molecular weight distribution of your sample.

Step 6: Data Interpretation

After the GPC analysis is complete, you will obtain a chromatogram showing the molecular weight distribution of your polymer or macromolecule. Interpret the data carefully, noting the peak positions and intensities, which provide valuable insights into the sample’s molecular weight characteristics.


Proper sample preparation is the foundation of accurate and reliable GPC analysis. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your polymer or macromolecule samples are properly dissolved, free from impurities, and ready for analysis. GPC analysis, when performed with well-prepared samples, is a valuable tool for researchers and scientists in various fields, from polymer chemistry to material science, providing essential insights into molecular weight distribution and polymer characteristics.