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Quantifying Size Exclusion by Diffusion NMR: A Versatile Method to Measure Pore Access and Pore Size

Elwinger, Fredrik, Wernersson, Jonny, Furó, István
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11431-11438
automation, dextran, gel chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, polymers, porosity, porous media
Size-exclusion quantification NMR spectroscopy (SEQ-NMR) is introduced for measuring equilibrium distribution coefficients, Kₑq, in porous media. The porous medium is equilibrated with a polydisperse polymer solution. The original bulk polymer solution and the polymer solution after equilibration but in the absence of the porous medium are analyzed by NMR diffusion experiments. The joint evaluation of the two diffusion attenuation curves under suitable constraints provides the extent by which polymer fractions of particular size were depleted from the solution by pore access. This procedure yields Kₑq versus polymer probe size, the selectivity curve that in turn can provide the pore size and its distribution. Simulations probe the performance of the method that is demonstrated experimentally in chromatographic media using dextran polymers. SEQ-NMR and inverse size-exclusion chromatography (ISEC) yield selectivity curves that virtually coincide. Crucial advantages with SEQ-NMR, such as versatility with regard to both the polymer used and porous system explored, high speed, potential for automation, and small required sample volume, are discussed.