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Equivalent peak resolution: Characterization of the extent of separation for two components based on their relative peak overlap

Dvořák, Martin, Svobodová, Jana, Dubský, Pavel, Riesová, Martina, Vigh, Gyula, Gaš, Bohuslav
Electrophoresis 2015 v.36 no.5 pp. 646-654
computer software, electrophoresis, equations, probability distribution, separation
Although the classical formula of peak resolution was derived to characterize the extent of separation only for Gaussian peaks of equal areas, it is often used even when the peaks follow non‐Gaussian distributions and/or have unequal areas. This practice can result in misleading information about the extent of separation in terms of the severity of peak overlap. We propose here the use of the equivalent peak resolution value, a term based on relative peak overlap, to characterize the extent of separation that had been achieved. The definition of equivalent peak resolution is not constrained either by the form(s) of the concentration distribution function(s) of the peaks (Gaussian or non‐Gaussian) or the relative area of the peaks. The equivalent peak resolution value and the classically defined peak resolution value are numerically identical when the separated peaks are Gaussian and have identical areas and SDs. Using our new freeware program, Resolution Analyzer, one can calculate both the classically defined and the equivalent peak resolution values. With the help of this tool, we demonstrate here that the classical peak resolution values mischaracterize the extent of peak overlap even when the peaks are Gaussian but have different areas. We show that under ideal conditions of the separation process, the relative peak overlap value is easily accessible by fitting the overall peak profile as the sum of two Gaussian functions. The applicability of the new approach is demonstrated on real separations.