A headspace sample is usually prepared in a vial containing the sample, the dilution solvent, a matrix modifier and the headspace. Volatile components from complex sample mixtures can be extracted from non-volatile sample components and isolated in the headspace or gas portion of a sample vial. A sample of the gas in the headspace is injected into a GC system for separation of all of the volatile components.
G = the gas phase (headspace)
The gas phase is commonly referred to as the headspace and lies above the condensed sample phase.
S = the sample phase
The sample phase contains the compound(s) of interest. It is usually in the form of a liquid or solid in combination with a dilution solvent or a matrix modifier.
Once the sample phase is introduced into the vial and the vial is sealed, volatile components diffuse into the gas phase until the headspace has reached a state of equilibrium as depicted by the arrows. The sample is then taken from the headspace.
In order to achieve the best performance with headspace GC, careful attention should be paid to sample preparation and instrument setup. The vial and cap are a very important, and often overlooked, element in the headspace analysis preparation.
It is important to ensure the correct vial and cap are used!
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