Paper Chromatography

What Is Paper Chromatography?

Chromatography technique that uses paper sheets or strips as the adsorbent being the stationary phase through which a solution is made to pass is called paper chromatography. It is an inexpensive method of separating dissolved chemical substances by their different migration rates across the sheets of paper. It is a powerful analytical tool that uses very small quantities of material. Paper chromatography was discovered by Synge and Martin in the year 1943.

Paper Chromatography Principle

The principle involved can be partition chromatography or adsorption chromatography. Partition chromatography because the substances are partitioned or distributed between liquid phases. The two phases are water held in pores of the filter paper and the other phase is a mobile phase which passes through the paper. When the mobile phase moves, the separation of the mixture takes place. The compounds in the mixture separate themselves based on the differences in their affinity towards stationary and mobile phase solvents under the capillary action of pores in the paper. Adsorption chromatography between solid and liquid phases, wherein the solid surface of the paper is the stationary phase and the liquid phase is the mobile phase.

Paper Chromatography Diagram

Diagram of Paper Chromatography

Paper Chromatography Procedure

Below we have explained the procedure to conduct Paper Chromatography Experiment for easy understanding of students.

  1. Selecting a suitable type of development: It is decided based on the complexity of the solvent, paper, mixture, etc. Usually ascending type or radial paper chromatography is used as they are easy to perform. Also, it is easy to handle, the chromatogram obtained is faster and the process is less time-consuming.
  2. Selecting a suitable filter paper: Selection of filter paper is done based on the size of the pores and the sample quality.
  3. Prepare the sample: Sample preparation includes the dissolution of the sample in a suitable solvent (inert with the sample under analysis) used in making the mobile phase.
  4. Spot the sample on the paper: Samples should be spotted at a proper position on the paper by using a capillary tube.
  5. Chromatogram development: Chromatogram development is spotted by immersing the paper in the mobile phase. Due to the capillary action of paper, the mobile phase moves over the sample on the paper.
  6. Paper drying and compound detection: Once the chromatogram is developed, the paper is dried using an air drier. Also, detecting solution can be sprayed on the chromatogram developed paper and dried to identify the sample chromatogram spots.

Paper Chromatography Applications

There are various applications of paper chromatography. Some of the uses of Paper Chromatography in different fields are discussed below:

  • To study the process of fermentation and ripening.
  • To check the purity of pharmaceuticals.
  • To inspect cosmetics.
  • To detect the adulterants.
  • To detect the contaminants in drinks and foods.
  • To examine the reaction mixtures in biochemical laboratories.
  • To determine dopes and drugs in humans and animals.

Types of paper chromatography:

  1. Ascending Paper Chromatography – The techniques goes with its name as the solvent moves in an upward direction.
  2. Descending Paper Chromatography – The movement of the flow of solvent due to gravitational pull and capillary action is downwards, hence the name descending paper chromatography.
  3. Ascending – Descending Paper Chromatography – In this version of paper chromatography, movement of solvent occurs in two directions after a particular point. Initially, the solvent travels upwards on the paper which is folded over a rod and after crossing the rod it continues with its travel in the downward direction.
  4. Radial or Circular Paper Chromatography – The sample is deposited at the centre of the circular filter paper. Once the spot is dried, the filter paper is tied horizontally on a Petri dish which contains the solvent.
  5. Two Dimensional Paper Chromatography – Substances which have the same rf values can be resolved with the help of two-dimensional paper chromatography.

To learn more about the different types of paper chromatography from the experts, register with BYJU’S now!

Other important links:

Differential Extraction Chromatography Difference between Adsorption and Absorption
Test your knowledge on paper chromatography

1 Comment

  1. It is so easy to understand by students
    Explained with applications also.

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