What are theoretical plate numbers?

The number of theoretical plates (N), is one index used to determine the performance and effectiveness of columns.They are an indirect measure of peak width for a peak at a specific retention time. The number of theoretical plates can be calculated: N=16(tR /W)2 , with tR= retention time and W= peak width. Column efficiency is a function of the column dimensions, its flow rate and the compound and its retention. For column comparison purposes, the number of theoretical plates per meter (N/m) is often used.

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