Downscaling limits and confinement effects in the miniaturization of porous polymer monoliths in narrow bore capillaries

Ivo Nischang, Frantisek Svec*, Jean M.J. Fréchet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Monolithic poly(butyl methacrylate-co-ethylene dimethacrylate) columns have been prepared in capillaries ranging in inner diameter from 5 to 75 μm using thermally initiated free-radical polymerization of a mixture of butyl methacrylate, ethylene dimethacrylate, and porogens at different temperatures. Scanning electron microscopy and the measurement of hydrodynamic properties reveal that the downward scalability of the monolithic columns is greatly affected by the confinement effect of the capillary wall resulting from the decreased volume-to-surface ratio as the capillary diameter is decreased. The downscaling process is affected most by the polymerization temperature, the diffusion of the propagating radicals, and the density of coverage of polymerizable groups on the inner walls of the capillary. Optimization of all these factors enables the preparation of monolithic structures in capillaries with inner diameters as low as 5 μm while retaining the desirable properties of monoliths prepared in much larger capillaries. Under these conditions, formation of undesired dense polymer layers attached to the capillary wall was minimized. The chromatographic performance of 10, 25, and 50 μm capillaries evaluated in the reversed phase gradient separation of three proteins showed no change in elution times at identical flow velocities and gradient times, while peak elution width was the smallest with the narrowest capillary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7390-7396
Number of pages7
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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