I almost hate to admit it, but oftentimes when I am enjoying a vacation, I can’t help but think about chromatography and how it touches so many aspects of life. Last week I was in Corning, NY and went to the Corning Museum of Glass which has a fantastic display of all facets of glass. The museum started with artistic sculptures, then a historical perspective of glass making, including a display on borosilicate glass used to make scientific glassware (including the Kuderna-Danish Concentrator and the glassware used for soxhlet extractions). I’m sure my family loved hearing how all of the pieces of glassware are used! At Restek, we acquired Glastron, a manufacturer of specialized glassware, to expand our glassware products.
The final area in the museum is the Innovation Center which is an interactive science and technology exhibit that houses the optics gallery. I couldn’t ignore the connection to chromatography when the exhibit started explaining how Corning chemist J. Franklin Hyde made fused silica in 1934 from pure liquid chemicals instead of melting dry mineral ingredients like other glass products. Fused silica therefore, has a much higher melting temperature than other traditional glasses. It took another 45 years until fused silica was used for capillary GC columns by adapting a process for the manufacturing of fiber optics. The development of fused silica capillary GC columns changed the entire field of gas chromatography and continues to be the chosen platform for efficient, fast separations. It makes me wonder, what is the NEXT invention that will change the face of chromatography like fused silica capillary columns did decades ago?