Direct determination of hydrodynamic radius from retention time is an advantage of the field-flow fractionation techniques. However, this is not always completely straight forward since non-idealities exist and assumptions have been made in deriving the retention equations. In this study we investigate the effect on accuracy from two factors: (1) level of sophistication of the equations used to determine channel height from a calibration experiment and (2) the influence of secondary relaxation on the accuracy of hydrodynamic radius determination. A new improved technique for estimating the channel height from calibration experiments is suggested. It is concluded that severe systematic error can arise if the most common channel height equations are used and an alternative more rigorous approach is described. For secondary relaxation it is concluded that this effect increases with the cross-flow decay rate. The secondary relaxation effect is quantified for different conditions. This is part one of two. In the second part the determination of hydrodynamic radius are evaluated experimentally under similar conditions.
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