The prospect of simplified method development for 1D and 2D-LC separations has long been sought for. Indeed, past CAST publications, but also those by many other groups, have investigated the classical approach used also extensively for 1D separations using empirical retention models. Meanwhile, machine-learning tools have emerged as an alternative across STEM fields. It is thus not surprising that its application has been of interest to several groups in the chromatographic community.
Together with dr. Patrick Forré from the Institute of Informatics at the University of Amsterdam, as well as researchers from the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences dr. Bernd Ensing (Computational Chemistry) and CAST member dr. Bob Pirok (Analytical Chemistry), PhD candidate Jim Boelrijk (Institute of Informatics) studied the feasibility of using Bayesian Optimization for the optimization of method development in 2D-LC separations.
For any machine learning tool to operate effectively within the context of method optimization, the use of a chromatographic response function or objective function is of paramount importance. Such functions quantify a particular quality descriptor that represent the performance of the separation method. Known examples in the field of 2D separations are peak capacity and orthogonality. However, maximised peak capacity or orthogonality does not necessarily translate into a high information yield. Resolution has also been investigated but its use is impaired by scaling issues. Consequently, the present study employed the concept of connected components (Figure 1).
The simulated method development cycles yielded a larger number of separated peaks clusters (connected components) relative to the random and grid search algorithms (Figure 2).
The study by Boelrijk demonstrated that Bayesian optimization is a viable method for optimization of chromatographic experiments with many method parameters, and therefore also for direct experimental optimization of simple to moderate separation problems. This study was conducted under a simplified chromatographic reality (Gaussian peaks and equal concentration of analytes, generated compounds). Boelrijk thus remains interested to continue this research by working towards actual direct experimental optimization.