Historical Development

Table 1 Key publications that greatly influenced the development of planar chromatography

Author Reference

Runge Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe,

Oranienburg, 1855 Goppelsroeder Kapillaranalyse, Dresden, 1910

Izmailov and Shraiber Farmatsiya 1938; 3: 1

Crowe Industrial and Engineering

Chemistry Analytical Edition 1941; 13: 845

Consden, Gordon and Martin BiochemistryJournal 1944;

38: 226

Kirchner, Miller and Keller Analytical Chemistry 1951;

23: 420 Biochimica Biophysica Acta

1950; 4: 427 Pharmazie 1956; 11: 633 Analytical Chemistry 1969; 41:179

Snyder JournalofChromatography

See also publications listed in the Further Reading section.

based on a thin layer of adsorbent poured loosely into a Petri dish.

Meinhard and Hall achieved the first major improvement in layer quality in 1949 with a method called surface chromatography. They used an aqueous slurry of aluminium oxide, Celite and starch coated on microscope slides to produce chromato-graphic layers free of cracks.

Several years before that, Martin and Synge had taken a different approach while trying to separate amino acids and their derivatives. They developed partition chromatography, in which the stationary phase was coated on to a support such as silica gel and then filled into a column. Solvents such as chloroform were used for elution. In their search for a complementary micromethod, Consden, Gordon and Martin in 1944 used filter paper as an open column, a technique that has its roots in the capillary pictures of Runge (1855) and in the capillary analysis of Schoenbein and Goppelsroeder (1910). Within about 10 years paper chromatography became a universal chromatographic technique.

For the separation of terpenes, Kirchner, Miller and Keller in 1951 improved the surface chromatog-raphy technique by incorporating a mixture of zinc silicate and zinc cadmium sulfide as fluorescence indicator into the layer and leaving the Celite out. From various adsorbents to be used on 0.5 x 5.25 in glass plates called chromatostrips they chose silica gel as the most suitable for their application.

Although employed successfully by many researchers, the thin-layer method was not used widely for several years.

The situation changed with Egon Stahl, who introduced the term thin-layer chromatography in 1956. He realized that the availability of standardized adsorbents of a narrow range of particle size, suitable equipment for preparing thin layers and suitable examples stimulating the use of the method could lead to a breakthrough in acceptance. In 1958 Merck introduced standardized aluminium oxide, kieselguhr and silica gel according to specifications developed by Stahl. Also based on Stahl's ideas, Desaga brought out a basic TLC kit. The wide publicity given to the technique by Merck and Desaga as well as its recognition as a separate chromatographic method by Chemical Abstracts made TLC more and more popular.

In his fundamental book, Thin Layer Chromatography - A Laboratory Handbook, published in 1962, Stahl together with several co-authors, made available the results of systematic research on silica gel and other adsorbents, instrumentation and different techniques as well as on the wide applicability of the technique.

The increasing interest in TLC became apparent in a huge number of published papers and several important books, including those by Randerath (1962), Bobbitt (1963) and Kirchner (1967). Due to its much better performance, higher sample capacity and greater flexibility as regards derivatizing reagents, TLC soon replaced paper chromatography in many applications and found entrance to pharmacopoeias as an official method of analysis.

Further developments of planar chromatography were mainly driven by progress in three areas: plate material, instrumentation and theoretical understanding. In 1996 one of the most comprehensive treatises in the field of planar chromatography was published. The Handbook of Thin Layer Chromatog-raphy, edited by Sherma and Fried, illustrates the current state of the technique.

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