Vials vs. 96-Well Plates for Chromatography

11th Aug 2020

Vials vs. 96-Well Plates for Chromatography

Vials and 96-well plates are standard consumables used in chromatography. While vials were previously the industry standard, well plates have become more popular in recent decades. Both vials and well plates still hold advantages that make them viable options in chromatography processes. Vials vs. 96-well plates for chromatography is a debate worth investigating before deciding which to use in your lab.


Despite the growing popularity of 96-well plates, vials are still commonly used in chromatography. Vials are single-operation handling containers that can be made of glass or plastic with a variety of closure options, including: screw caps, snap caps, and crimp caps. Vials are the most reliable option for gas chromatography methods. Gas chromatography requires a tight seal to avoid evaporation. Closures such as crimp caps tightly seal vials shut, making them the best option for gas chromatography. Vials are also a requirement of chain-of-custody, which is the process to prove the authenticity of evidence such as drug testing.

96-Well Plates

As technology advances, 96-well plates have become more common as chromatography instrumentation is built to accommodate these devices. Well plates are high-throughput containers that offer multiple cavities, unlike a single cavity vial. As their name suggests, 96-well plates have 96 cavities. These plates are well suited for liquid chromatography because analytes are less volatile and internal standards can compensate for some solvent evaporation. If the solvent requires a lot of evaporation, well plate instrumentation can be used with 96-well plates to decrease the amount of time needed for evaporation. Another benefit of well plates is the ability to minimize human errors as plates lend themselves to automation. Two of the most significant benefits of this method are its money- and time-saving capabilities, as it’s able to sample large portions at once.

In the debate between vials vs. 96-well plates for chromatography, each container has its advantages. Vials are a strong option for gas chromatography samples that need a tight seal, whereas 96-well plates are a great option for high-throughput liquid chromatography testing.