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Chromatography is a continuously evolving scientific discipline or field "studying the formation, change, movement, and separation of multiple concentration zones of chemical compounds (analytes or particles) of the studied sample in a flow of mobile phase relative to selective influence of one or a number of solid/liquid stationary phases or sorbents."[1] Components requiring separation join with the mobile phase — a gas or a liquid, for example — and pass through an immobile or stationary phase — a liquid or a solid. The components sorb or accumulate either in the stationary phase or at the border of where the phases interface, moving at different speeds based on sorptivity and forming a regular distribution.[2] This distribution is measured with the help of a chromatograph, spectrophotometer, mass spectrometer, and/or other detector and output as a chromatogram, typically in graph form as a function of elution time.


Chromatographic separations were originally confined to colored plant pigments and dyes, but they quickly expanded to include colorless substances. Today, chromatographic methodology has expanded greatly with technological and scientific innovation, with a method for almost any type of analyte or particulate matter in the most minute of quantity.[2]

Chromatography has numerous associated methods, dependent on the process-specific movement and type of mobile phase[1]:

Methods of chromatography
Mobility or equilibria Phase Chromatography type
Liquid Tswett (column), paper, thin-layer
Gas Gas
Supercritical medium Supercritical fluid
Electrical flow Electro
Sorbent liquid Hypersorption, countercurrent, denuder
↓↑ Adsorption Liquid-solid (gel), gas-solid, supercritical fluid-solid
↓↑ Chemisorption Ion exchange, affinity, complex-forming
↓↑ Absorption (partition) Liquid-liquid, gas-liquid
↓↑ Physical field Field-flow fractionation
Equilibrium (isotherm) Techniques, channel Hyphenated techniques
Linear Zone, column One-dimensional
Non-linear Frontal, slot Multidimensional
Non-linear Displacement, flat bed Combined with spectral methods

(Note: Arrows in the table indicate the movement of the analyte-containing mobile phase.)

See also

Further reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wixom, Robert L. (ed); Gehrke, Charles W. (ed.); Berezkin, Viktor G.; Janak, Jaroslav (2011). "Chapter 1: Chromatography - A New Discipline of Science". Chromatography: A Science of Discovery. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 1–13. ISBN 1118060296. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sharma, B.K. (2007). "Chapter 1: Chromatography". Chromatography. Krishna Prakashan Media. pp. C1–C20. ISBN 8185842795.