The determination of reducing carbohydrates using a cation-exchange column and potentiometric detection with a metallic copper electrode

Research paper by C. E. Cowie, P. R. Haddad, P. W. Alexander

Indexed on: 01 Jul '86Published on: 01 Jul '86Published in: Chromatographia


A metallic copper electrode is employed as a potentiometric detector for reducing carbohydrates after their separation on a cation-exchange column. A post-column reactant solution comprising 1 mM copper (II) and 35 mM ammonia is mixed with the column effluent and the metallic copper electrode provides a steady baseline potential by responding in a Nernstian manner to the level of copper ions present. This in turn is affected by the presence of eluted reducing carbohydrates, leading to an indirect detection method for these species. The method is applied to the detection of maltose, lactose, xylose, glucose, sorbose, fructose and arabinose. The electrode response mechanism is discussed and detection limits in the low nanomole range are reported. The potentiometric detector is shown to be more sensitive than refractive index detection.