paper chromatography (PC)

paper chromatography (PC)

Type of chromatography using filter paper or other special paper as the stationary phase. Spots of sample and reference materials are applied, usually as liquids, near one edge (or corner, for two-dimensional PC) of the paper. The edge of the paper is dipped in a solvent, which travels along it by capillarity, moving the components of the sample at rates depending on their relative solubilities in the solvent. In two-dimensional PC, the paper is then turned 90° and the new edge dipped in a different solvent. The components of the sample mixture, visible as separated spots, are identified by comparing the distances they have traveled with those of the known reference materials. PC is especially useful for complex mixtures of amino acids, peptides, carbohydrates, steroids, and many other organic compounds and inorganic ions.

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