Field-Flow Fractionation was invented and patented in 1966 by Prof. Calvin Giddings (1930-1996) , an outstanding scientist and two-times Nobel-Price nominee (1984/1994), from University Utah at Salt Lake City, USA. Prof. Giddings founded the Field-Flow Fractionation Research Center (FFFresearch Center) at University of Utah, where he developed the complete theory of Field-Flow Fractionation and the different Field-Flow Fractionation sub-techniques. Prof. Giddings and his team developed Thermal Field-Flow Fractionation  in 1969, Sedimentation Field-Flow Fractionation  in 1974, Flow Field-Flow Fractionation  in 1976 and Split Flow Thin Cell Fractionation (SPLITT) in 1985 . In 1987 Giddings/Wahlund published the first paper about Asymmetric Flow Field-Flow Fractionation , which revolutionized Flow Field-Flow Fractionation and later became the most popular Field-Flow Fractionation technology used today.
Another important step in the evolution of the Field-Flow Fractionation
technology was achieved, when Prof. Michel Martin from École Supérieure de
Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris first postulated and finally in
1984 published the World’s First Online Coupling of Field-Flow Fractionation
with Light Scattering [7,8]. Combining the separation power of Field-Flow
Fractionation with the particle sizing power of Light Scattering creates an
unmatched high resolution particle sizing tool without comparison. This
visionary work of Prof. Martin formed the basis of today’s modern Field-Flow
Fractionation – Light Scattering technology. Several other groups copied
this approach, by using the broad instrumental FFF basis developed by Prof.
Giddings and his team.
In 1986, Prof. Giddings and some co-workers founded the legendary company
FFFractionation, Inc. in Salt Lake City. It was the first company in the
field of Field-Flow Fractionation, which developed and introduced the
world’s first commercial Field-Flow Fractionation instruments, the Models
T100 (Thermal Field-Flow Fractionation), S101 (Sedimentation Field-Flow
Fractionation), F1000 (Flow Field-Flow Fractionation) and SF1000 SPLITT
(Split Flow Thin Cell Fractionation). [9,10,11,12].
In 1997 Dr. Thorsten Klein from Technical University of Munich, Germany
founded Postnova Analytics in Munich which introduced the first complete
Asymmetrical Flow Field-Flow Fractionation into the market. In 2001 Postnova
and FFFractionation merged together, forming the only company in the area of
Field-Flow Fractionation, offering the complete range of FFF systems.
Postnova also invented the world’s first High Temperature Asymmetric Flow
Field-Flow Fractionation and commercialized this technology in 2006 .
Today, Postnova is the leading Field-Flow Fractionation company, completely
focused on the Field-Flow Fractionation and Light Scattering technology.
Postnova offers the full range of Field-Flow Fractionation systems coupled
with Light Scattering. The unique principle of Field-Flow Fractionation
developed by Prof. Giddings and his co-workers around the world is an
integral part of every commercial instrument manufactured by Postnova
Analytics. It is the focus of Postnova Analytics to commercialize the unique
ideas of Prof. Giddings, making the Field-Flow Fractionation technology
available to the scientific community around the globe.
FIELD-FLOW FRACTIONATION PRINCIPLE
Field-Flow Fractionation is a family of unique separation techniques,
comprising of various different sub-techniques. All these Field-Flow
Fractionation versions utilize the same basic separation principle, but
employ different force fields. Depending on the used separation field the
technique is called Flow Field-Flow Fractionation, Sedimentation Field-Flow
Fractionation, Thermal Field-Flow Fractionation or Split Flow Thin Cell
Fractionation (SPLITT). Field-Flow Fractionation is providing fast, gentle
and high resolution separations of any particulate matter from 1 nm up to
100 µm in a liquid medium. The sample is separated inside an open flow
channel without the presence of any packing or stationary phase inside.
Depending on the Field-Flow Fractionation method which is used, different
force fields (liquid flows, centrifugal forces, temperature gradients or
gravity fields) are used and applied perpendicular to the separation
channel. Under the influence of these force fields and the counteracting
diffusion field, different equilibrium layers are formed by the sample
analytes. Smaller particles are located in faster and bigger particles are
located in slower stream lines of the laminar flow inside the channel. This
results in the elution pattern where smaller particles are transported
faster through the channel than the bigger ones.