Silylation is the most widely used derivatization procedure for sample analysis by GC. The popularity of silylation reagents is enhanced by their ease of use and formation of derivatives. In silylation, an active hydrogen is replaced by an alkylsilyl group, such as trimethylsilyl (TMS) or t-butyldimethylsilyl (t-BDMS).
Compared to their parent compounds, silyl derivatives are more volatile, less polar, and more thermally stable. As a result, GC separation is improved and detection is enhanced.
Silylation reagents are generally moisture sensitive, requiring them to be sealed to prevent deactivation. The derivatives of TMS reagents are also more sensitive. In response to this difficulty, t-BDMS reagents were intrduced, which enabled the formation of derivatives 10,000 times more stable to hydrolysis than the TMS ethers.
Both TMS and t-BDMS reagents are suitable for a wide variety of compounds, offer excellent thermal stability and can be used under a variety of GC conditions and applications.