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Size-Exclusion Chromatography: A twenty-first Century Perspective



Andre Striegel


Now in its sixth decade, size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) remains the premier method by which to determine the molar mass averages and distributions of natural and synthetic macromolecules. Aided by its coupling to a variety and multiplicity of detectors, it has also shown its ability to characterize a host of other physicochemical properties, such as branching, chemical, and sequence length heterogeneity; size distribution; chain rigidity; fractal dimension and its change as a function of molar mass; etc. SEC is also an integral part of most macromolecular two-dimensional separations, providing a second-dimension size-based technique for determining the molar mass of the components separated in the first dimension according to chemical composition, thus yielding the combined chemical composition and molar mass distributions of a sample. While the potential of SEC remains strong, our awareness of the pitfalls and challenges inherent to it and to its practice must also be ever-present. This Perspective aims to highlight some of the advantages and applications of SEC, to bring to the fore the fore these caveats with regard to its practice, and to provide an outlook as to potential areas for expansion and growth.


Size-exclusion chromatography, history, advantages, applications, caveats, outlook


Striegel, A. (2022), Size-Exclusion Chromatography: A twenty-first Century Perspective, Chromatographia, [online],, (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created April 4, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022