Chromatography: Let’s Explore

Its been a week full of explorations- first the Investigations into enzymes (look at the previous post, and then, yesterday, a look into Chromatography. Through Biology, of course, what else? Well, come explore with me as we examine chromatography and dream up what we can use it for…leaf

So… What is Chromatography?

Chromatography is a laboratory technique used to separate a mixture of many different substances. Chromatography is important because of its ability to separate colors in a mixture from one another, allowing the searcher to discover what the mixture is made up of. Chromatography happens because it different components within the “dye”, or color, of the leaf dissolve differently into the solvent and thus travel up the chromatography paper at different rates. Both the solvent and the chromatography paper are essential to this process. The filter paper draws the solvent upwards, and the solvent pulls the color molecules behind it along the paper, forming a colored band wherever the color is at that moment. Rf value stands for the value of the retention factor. The retention factor is important to scientists, because it allows them to identify how individual pigments, as well as figure out how closely drawn to the solvent they are.  Dunknown is the distance the pigment traveled. Dsolvent is the distance the solvent has traveled. Pigments and Photosynthesis are a fun process to examine- Photosynthesis acts as a complement to cellular respiration. Even organisms that don’t use photosynthesis themselves, often take in glucose originally built in

From the GREEN leaf chromatogram, one clear green pigment band was visible, and it appeared that there was also a yellow band underneath it.  (Top of the photo)

From the NON-GREEN leaf (red), there were two clear bands that appeared on the filter paper. Purple and Orange.  (lower on the photo)

To examine and explore: What about plants has made them ideal for photosynthesis? Why can’t human cells use photosynthesis?


One thought on “Chromatography: Let’s Explore

  1. So – the company I worked for in Holland in the 1970s, in addition to selling US-made scientific computers, sold chemical lab equipment, include Gas Chromatography systems and chromatography columns to be used with those systems. See, e.g., ( uncitable, I know, but promising links: ). So with the paper chromatographs above, the mobile phase is a liquid; in GC it is a gas. (I didn’t work on the GC stuff, but many of my colleagues did).

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