The invention of chromatography.

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DEFINITION

Chromatography is a process used to separate a chemical mixture into it’s constituent compounds.

INVENTION
  • In 1903, the Italian-born Russian botanist Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvet invented adsorption chromatography during his research on plant pigments.
  • Adsorption is the adhesion (sticking) of atoms/molecules (adsorbate) of a chemical compound to a surface (adsorbent).

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  • Whilst experimenting with plant pigments (mainly chlorophyll) and the extraction of these pigments from the leaves, he observed that different solvents behaved differently. For example, the pigments could easily be extracted from the leaves with ethanol or acetone; however, petroleum ether and ligroin, which easily dissolve chlorophyll and other associated pigments when they are available in an isolated form, will extract only certain pigments (carotenoids) from the leaves, while chlorophyll will remain there. This lead him to the conclusion that certain solvents adsorb certain pigments while dissolving others. Here is the chromatography experiment he conducted to separate plant pigments…

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INVENTOR

Here is a photograph of Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvet:

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