Chromatography was first developed by Mikhail Tsvet, a Russian-Italian biochemist. He used a column of finely ground calcium carbonate and petroleum ether to separate a mixture of plant pigments. The word chromatography is derived from the Greek words chroma and graphein, meaning “color.” While Tsvet’s method was revolutionary, the science behind chromatography lagged for decades, until the theoretical explanations of the process were formulated by A. J. P. Martin and R. L. M. Synge in the 19th century.
In the beginning, chromatography was used by artists, color theorists, and artisans, but it was not until the nineteenth century that scientists began using it for scientific research. The science of chromatography is so important that most modern pharmaceuticals are purified using the method. In fact, Tsvet’s work was inspired by the fall leaves. It was a professor at the University of Houston who was interested in the mind of an ingenious scientist.
Although Tswett’s method was originally intended for liquids, he envisioned that the method could be applied to other materials. He also designed a method for analyzing polymers in 1961. Afterward, Waters Associates bought the patent and began developing their own systems. In 1962, Enst Klesper reported using supercritical fluids in column chromatography for the first time. His technique was used to separate porphyrins.
Tsvet was a botanist who had a keen interest in the colors found in plants. Many of these pigments can be mixed, resulting in a new color. Tsvet’s method was successful in separating various pigments from each other. He could have done this by washing one color after another in a separate tube. That way, he could separate pure compounds from the mixture. So what are the different types of chromatography?
TLC is the most widely used method of chromatography. Its sensitivity is one of its most important features. Many chemists need to detect extremely small quantities of a substance. During that period, TLC became widely available. Two companies, Analtech of Delaware and E. Merck of Germany, offered gypsum-bound layers for TLC. They were subsequently patented. And this revolutionized the way that we analyze substances today.
Today, chromatography is an integral part of pharmaceutical manufacturing. The methods and techniques used in the process are crucial to the development of countless biologics and therapeutics. The next step will involve the purification of novel modalities and molecules. And the future of chromatography is bright. With the help of novel modalities and improved detector modules, the technology will enable scientists to produce meaningful yields of biotherapies. So, why not take a moment to learn more about the methods behind chromatography?
Today, chromatography is used to separate chiral molecules. The process can be divided into two different phases, the stationary phase is made from solid material, while the mobile phase is made of liquid. In the case of gas chromatography, the stationary phase is a glass or metal separation column. It is usually a solid substance like silica. Several types of liquid chromatography exist, based on the relative polarity of the stationary and mobile phases.
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