Chromatography- Definition, Principle, Types, Applications


Chromatography is a powerful and versatile technique that allows the separation, identification, and purification of different components of a mixture. It is based on the principle of differential distribution of the components between a moving fluid phase (the mobile phase) and a stationary phase that is either solid or liquid. The components that have a higher affinity for the stationary phase will move slower than those that have a lower affinity, resulting in their separation along the chromatographic system.

The term chromatography was coined by the Russian botanist Mikhail Tswett in 1906, who used it to separate plant pigments using a column of calcium carbonate. Since then, chromatography has evolved into a diverse family of methods that can separate molecules based on various physical and chemical properties, such as size, shape, charge, polarity, hydrophobicity, and affinity. Chromatography can be performed in different modes, such as liquid or gas chromatography, and with different configurations, such as column, thin layer, or paper chromatography.

Chromatography has numerous applications in biological and chemical fields. It can be used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of complex mixtures, such as environmental samples, pharmaceutical products, food additives, biochemical reactions, and metabolic pathways. It can also be used for isolation and purification of target molecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, hormones, and drugs. Chromatography is often the only means of separating components from complex mixtures that cannot be separated by other methods.

In this article, we will discuss the history of chromatography, the principle of chromatography, the components of chromatographic techniques, the types of chromatography, the commonly employed chromatographic techniques, and the applications of chromatography in various industries.