Summary
Column chromatography in chemistry is a chromatography method used to isolate a single chemical compound from a mixture. Chromatography is able to separate substances based on differential adsorption of compounds to the adsorbent; compounds move through the column at different rates, allowing them to be separated into fractions. The technique is widely applicable, as many different adsorbents (normal phase, reversed phase, or otherwise) can be used with a wide range of solvents. The technique can be used on scales from micrograms up to kilograms. The main advantage of column chromatography is the relatively low cost and disposability of the stationary phase used in the process. The latter prevents cross-contamination and stationary phase degradation due to recycling. Column chromatography can be done using gravity to move the solvent, or using compressed gas to push the solvent through the column. A thin-layer chromatograph can show how a mixture of compounds will behave when purified by column chromatography. The separation is first optimised using thin-layer chromatography before performing column chromatography. A column is prepared by packing a solid adsorbent into a cylindrical glass or plastic tube. The size will depend on the amount of compound being isolated. The base of the tube contains a filter, either a cotton or glass wool plug, or glass frit to hold the solid phase in place. A solvent reservoir may be attached at the top of the column. Two methods are generally used to prepare a column: the dry method and the wet method. For the dry method, the column is first filled with dry stationary phase powder, followed by the addition of mobile phase, which is flushed through the column until it is completely wet, and from this point is never allowed to run dry. For the wet method, a slurry is prepared of the eluent with the stationary phase powder and then carefully poured into the column. The top of the silica should be flat, and the top of the silica can be protected by a layer of sand.
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