Solid Phase Extraction FAQs: What is SPE and How Does it Work?

Solid Phase Extraction FAQs Answered!

Ashmeeta Chera, Phenomenex Sample Preparation Sales Manager and Matt Brusius, Phenomenex Sample Preparation Product Manager, discuss the major Solid Phase Extraction FAQs such as “what is Solid Phase Extraction (SPE)?” and “how does SPE work?” in the first edition of an upcoming video series – Sample Prep Confessions.

Here is a brief overview of what you can expect for the Solid Phase Extraction video below.

Why use Solid Phase Extraction (SPE)?

Labs perform SPE for a variety of reasons, however, there are three main points as to why labs do it.

  1. Clean-Up: The main reason labs use SPE is to clean up your sample of interest. This will affect downstream analysis, which will improve your chromatography. It will also reduce the amount of junk that is being put onto instruments, which can potentially reduce the amount of system maintenance required.
  2. Concentrate: The second reason labs would use SPE is to concentrate up the samples of interest. This would be used if you are trying to hit low levels of detection or low levels of quantitation. The benefit of this would be the ability to maximize the lifetime of an older instrument in the lab.
  3. Solvent Switch: If you are working with an aqueous base sample, and you would like to inject on a GC instrument, to go from your original base to a volatile organic, using SPE would be a way to achieve this goal.

What are the steps in the Solid Phase Extraction Process?

There are typically 5 steps associated with traditional SPE under the moniker of “catch and release”.

  1. Conditioning: Priming the cartridge for it to accept your analyte of interest
  2. Equilibrating: Priming the cartridge for it to accept your analyte of interest
  3. Loading Sample: This is the “catching” portion of SPE
  4. Wash: After catching your analytes of interest, you will then wash away any interferences.
  5. Elution: The final step is the “releasing” part of SPE.

What are advantages of doing Solid Phase Extraction?

There are a few advantages when performing SPE.

  1. Cleaner Samples: In contrast with a liquid-liquid extraction where it only allows you to target classes of compounds, SPE enables you to target just your analyte of interest. Being able to specifically target these analytes will lead to a much cleaner sample.
  2. Batch Processing: The ability to batch process multiple samples is another great advantage. Whether you are working in a fixed 96-well plate (click here for current offers!) or cartridges on top of a vacuum manifold, you are able to able to more easily automate your work flow. This is again in contrast to liquid-liquid extraction, which does not allow for this advantage.
  3. Concentration: SPE concentrates your analytes of interest as a function of just performing techniques.

How does Solid Phase Extraction work?

Curious how SPE works and looks in an the lab? Check out the last 5 minutes of the below video for an SPE color dye demonstration. Matt walks you through each of the steps and advantages discussed above.

Still have Solid Phase Extraction FAQs that need answers? Chat with our Technical Experts nearly 24/7 throughout the week! There are here to help you.

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