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The Distinct Uses of Chromatography You Ought to Know

Uses of Chromatography
Originally used for the segregation of colored substances from plants, chromatography is now extensively used in industrial and chemical units.
Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Feb 20, 2018
The Origin
Chromatography was invented by the Russian botanist, Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvet, in the year 1901. Several procedures of chromatography have become popular since then.
Chromatography is a multi-step, laboratory process and is used to separate mixtures of various chemicals into their individual components. Its governing principle is that different chemicals in a mixture have different degrees of dissolving in a liquid or sticking to a solid surface. In simple words, it can identify a chemical and separate it from a dense mixture of other chemicals and depict it on a surface. The process through which constituents of a mixture are segregated and analyzed by physical means is broadly classified as adsorption and partition chromatography. In these processes, a stream of liquid, that is in mobile phase, is made to flow through a tube known as a column, and is packed with porous solid material, which is in the stationary phase. The sample of the mixture that is to be analyzed is then sent through the mobile phase, and as the mixture proceeds in the tube, the compounds are separated. This process is preferred over many other techniques, as it doesn't cause any molecular changes in the composition of the chemicals involved.
Uses of Chromatography
★ Chromatography has evolved to be one of the most widely used chemical techniques to separate particles and contaminates in chemical plants. For example, in the chemical industries, pesticides and insecticides like DDT in groundwater, and PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) are removed with the help of thin layer chromatography.

★ The chromatography technique can also be used to separate any amount of quantities ranging from micrograms in laboratories to tons in chemical plants.
★ In the field of organic chemistry and pharmacy, chiral compounds are very close to each other in terms of atomic or molecular weight, element composition, and the physical properties. However, they exist in two different forms, called the enantiomers and optical isomers. Both these compounds may appear to be same, but they have very different chemical properties. So, in pharmacy, chromatography becomes crucial to analyze the exact chiral compound so that correct medicines can be manufactured. For instance, a compound called thalidomide has two optical isomers, and one of the isomers can cause birth defect if a pregnant women consumes it in the early stages of pregnancy. So, it is important to carefully separate these isomers.
★ As a major testing tool, liquid chromatography is used by government agencies to separate toxic materials from drinking water and also to monitor air quality.

★ It is also used by pharmaceutical companies to prepare large amounts of pure materials,that are further required in making medicines.

★ Also, it is used to check the presence of any contamination in manufactured compounds and to detect harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that are present in fish.
★ Paper chromatography is used as a technique to separate additives, vitamins, preservatives, proteins, and amino acids.

★ Gas and paper chromatography is very popular in forensic science and is used in fiber analysis and DNA and RNA fingerprinting. It is used to detect residue or chemicals that were present in case of fire or explosion, which in turn helps in solving different cases.

★ Gas chromatography is used to detect the presence of alcohol in blood and drugs or medications in urine.
These were some of the various uses of chromatography. This technology has gained immense industrial popularity in the past few decades, as it can separate chemicals efficiently, separate chemicals that differ in their atomic orientations in space, and is cost-effective as well.
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