Poole, Colin F. Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Retention and separation
- Quality of separation
- Separation time
- Planar chromatography
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A physical method of separation in which the components of a mixture of substances are separated from each other by differences in their distribution between two phases, one stationary and the other mobile. The mobile phase moves through the stationary phase in a definite direction; the substances must interact with the stationary phase to be retained and separated by it. Chromatographic methods provide a means of analyzing samples (to determine component identity and relative amount), isolating significant quantities of purified material for further experimentation or commerce, and determining fundamental physical properties of either the samples or the mobile or stationary phases (for example, diffusion coefficients, partition coefficients, or thermodynamic properties). There are virtually no boundaries to the sample types that can be separated. Examples include organic and inorganic compounds in the form of fixed gases, ions, polymers, as well as other species. Applications are found in all areas of science and technology, making chromatography one of the most widely used laboratory procedures in chemistry. Depending on intent, chromatography can be applied to trace quantities at about the limit of detector response (for example, 10−15 g) or to kilogram amounts in preparative separations.
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