Sample Preparation Perspectives


The sample preparation step in an analytical process typically consists of an extraction procedure that results in the isolation and enrichment of components of interest from a sample matrix. Extraction can vary in degree of selectivity, speed, and convenience and depends not only on the approach and conditions used but on the geometric configurations of the extraction phase. Increased interest in sample preparation research has been generated by the introduction of nontraditional extraction technologies. These technologies address the need for reduction of solvent use, automation, and miniaturization and ultimately lead to on-site in situ and in vivo implementation.

These extraction approaches are frequently easier to operate but provide optimization challenges. More fundamental knowledge is required by an analytical chemist not only about equilibrium conditions but, more importantly, about the kinetics of mass transfer in the extraction systems. Optimization of this extraction process enhances overall analysis. Proper design of the extraction devices and procedures facilitates convenient on-site implementation, integration with sampling, and separation/quantification, automation, or both. The key to rational choice, optimization, and design is an understanding of the fundamental principles governing mass transfer of analytes in multiphase systems. The objective of this perspective is to summarize the fundamental aspects of sample preparation and anticipate future developments and research needs.

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