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Introduction and History
1 Introduction to Thin-layer Chromatography
The basic TLC procedure has largely remained unchanged over the last ﬁfty years. It involves the use of a thin, even sorbent layer, usually about 0.10 to 0.25 mm thick, applied to a ﬁrm backing of glass, aluminium or plastic sheet to act as a support. Of the three, glass has always proved the most popular, although aluminium and plastic offer the advantage that they are ﬂexible and can more easily be cut to any size with minimal disruption to the sorbent layer. Numerous sorbents have been used, some more successfully than others, including silica gel, cellulose, aluminium oxide, polyamide and chemically bonded silica gels. The sample is dissolved in an appropriate solvent and applied as spots or bands along one side of the sorbent layer approximately l cm from the edge. An eluent (single solvent or solvent mixture) is allowed to ﬂow by capillary action through the sorbent starting at a point just below the applied samples. Most commonly this is achieved by using a glass rectangular tank in which the eluent is poured to give a depth of about 5 mm. The plate is placed in the tank or chromatography chamber and the whole covered with a lid. As the eluent front migrates through the sorbent, the components of the sample also migrate, but at different rates, resulting in separation. When the solvent front has reached a point near the top of the sorbent layer, the plate or sheet is removed and dried. The spots or bands on the developed layer are visualised, if required, under UV light or by chemical treatment or derivatisation. For quantitative determinations, zones can be removed or eluted from the layer, or the plate can be scanned at pre-determined wavelengths without disturbing the layer surface. The modern use of TLC has seen a strong move in the direction of plate scanning and video imaging as a means of providing sensitive and reliably accurate results and a more permanent record of the chromatogram. This is in addition to its obvious labour saving aspect and chemically ‘‘clean’’ approach. Although TLC is an analytical method in its own right, it is also complimentary to other chromatographic techniques and spectroscopic procedures. Results obtained with TLC can often be transferred to HPLC or vice versa with some adjustment in eluting solvent conditions. For multi-component samples (e.g. pesticides in water), fractions of interest from an HPLC separation can be collected and subsequent re-chromatography of these on HPTLC can give a ‘‘ﬁne tuned’’ separation of the components of the fractions.1–3 Thin-layer chromatography has
Surprisingly it was some time before the advantages of this development were recognised. in order to separate inorganic ions. Fourier transform infra-red (FTIR). from l956 a series of papers from Stahl10–13 appeared in the literature introducing ‘‘thin-layer chromatography’’ as an analytical procedure. describing the equipment and characterisation of sorbents for plate preparation. the binder level and the standardisation of the sorbents as regards pore size and volume. In l962.. and Raman spectroscopy.2 Chapter 1 been successfully hyphenated with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). were recognised as crucial to obtaining highly reproducible. much already utilised. mass spectroscopy (MS).17 These authors showed the wide versatility of TLC and its applicability to a large spectrum of separation problems and also illustrated how quickly the technique had gained acceptance throughout the world. the speciﬁc surface area and particle size. The solvent (methanol) was then added dropwise from above on to the applied spots and a series of circular rings were obtained of differing colours on the layer. However. In l954. with a sorbent composed of silicic acid. 2 History of TLC Although column chromatography can be traced to its discoverer.8 who used the now conventional ascending method. (By 1965 Stahl could quote over 4500 publications. ‘Thin-Layer Chromatography’ (1967).16 Then. describing the plates used as ‘‘chromatostrips’’. for the separation of terpene derivatives. Circular TLC was born.5 it was not until l938 that separations on thin-layers were achieved when Izmailov and Shraiber. Kurt Randerath’s book on TLC was published. and Izmailov and Shraiber named this new technique ‘‘drop chromatography’’. layer uniformity.7 Further advances were made in l95l by Kirchner et al. which they described as ‘‘surface chromatography’’. but still with great potential for future development into areas where research apparently is only just beginning. In l949 Meinhard and Hall used a starch binder to give some ﬁrmness to the layer. with plaster of Paris (calcium sulphate) being used as a binder and TLC began to be widely used. Reitsema9 used much broader plates and was able to separate several mixtures in one run. Tswett in l903. . which required less sample and sorbent.4 Undoubtedly TLC is a modern analytical separation method with extensive versatility. in l969 a 2nd edition of Stahl’s book appeared which was greatly expanded.)18 With Stahl’s publication the importance of factors such as controlling the layer thickness. entitled ‘Thin-Layer Chromatography – A Laboratory Handbook’ (1965). The sample (plant extracts) was applied as droplets to the layer.6 looking for a simpler technique. to give far more detailed analytical data on separated compounds. The sorbent was applied to a microscope slide as a slurry. giving a layer about 2 mm thick.15 and Kirchner’s. the Russian botanist. Silica gel ‘‘nach Stahl’’ or ‘‘according to Stahl’’ became well known.14 followed by those of Stahl and co-workers. Even the UV/visible diode array technique has been utilised in TLC to determine peak purity or the presence of unresolved analytes. quality separations. separated plant extracts using aluminium oxide spread on a glass plate.
analysis time could be reduced by a similar factor. Up to this time quantitative TLC was fraught with experimental error. He compared the effect of particle size on development time.27 This improvement enabled a marked increase in number and resolution of the separated components. Rf values and plate height. In l973 Halpaap was one of the ﬁrst to recognise the advantage of using a smaller average particle size of silica gel (about 5–6 mm) in the preparation of TLC plates. the introduction of commercial spectrodensitometric scanners enabled the quantiﬁcation of analytes directly on the TLC layer. As the range and reliability of commercial plates/sheets improved. However. which is based on a a Merck KGaA. less mobile phase was required. Reversed-phase HPTLC was reported in 1980 by Halpaap et al. In 1977 the ﬁrst major HPTLC publication appeared.22 Bonded phases then followed in quick succession. compared with adsorption as used in most previous methods. and it was on this material that the commercial companies centred their attention. Initially peak areas were measured manually. Automated multiple development (AMD) made its appearance in 1984 due to the pioneering work of Burger. Germany. The next major advance was the advent of HPTLC (High performance thin-layer chromatography).19 By the mid 1970s it was recognised that HPTLC added a new dimension to TLC as it was demonstrated that precision could be improved ten-fold. simply called ‘‘HPTLC high performance thin-layer chromatography’’ edited by Zlatkis and Kaiser. It soon became evident that the most useful of the sorbents was silica gel. TLC quickly became very popular with about 400–500 publications per year appearing in the late 1960s as it became recognised as a quick. In 1982 Jost and Hauck24 reported an amino (NH2–) modiﬁed HPTLC plate. including options for peak purity and the measurement of full UV/visible spectra for all separated components. Commercially the plates were ﬁrst called ‘‘nano-TLC’’ plates by the manufacturer.23 and this soon became commercially available as pre-coated plates. Darmstadt. The 1980s also saw improvements in spectrodensitometric scanners with full computer control becoming possible. and the development distances on the layers could be reduced. .Introduction and History 3 Commercialisation of the technique began in 1965 with the ﬁrst pre-coated TLC plates and sheets being offered for sale. This opened up a far larger range of separation possibilities based on a partition mechanism.20 The technique could now be made fully instrumental to give accuracy comparable with HPLC. which was soon followed by cyano-bonded (1985)25 and diol-bonded (1987)26 phases. but this was soon changed to the designation ‘‘HPTLC’’.21 In this volume Halpaap and Ripphahn described their comparative results with the new 5 · 5 cm HPTLC plates versus conventional TLC for a series of lipophilic dyes. In recent years TLC/HPTLC research has entered the chiral separation ﬁeld using a number of chiral selectors and chiral stationary phases. particularly with ˚ an average pore size of 60 A. standard methods for analysis appeared throughout industry. relatively inexpensive procedure for the separation of a wide range of sample mixtures. Modiﬁcations to the silica gel began with silanisation to produce reversed-phase layers. (Mercka). but later integrators achieved this automatically. Only one type of chiral pre-coated plate is presently commercially available.
. Miller and G. no. Techniques in Chemistry. K. UK. 2l. Shraiber. 7. N. 1941–1965. vol. E. 12. Chem. J. E. SpringerVerlag... Zlatkis. 5. 11.. Springer-Verlag. Reitsema. 19. 82. Sci.H. London. Warsaw Soc. Proceedings of the International Symposium. ‘Instrumental Thin-Layer Chromatography/Planar Chromatography’. J. and R. Brighton. 16. M. 1965. 77–78. Stahl. 1961. Stahl. 1978. 12. Section. which has enabled TLC to be hyphenated effectively with Raman spectroscopy. 33–44.M. 323. in HPTLC high performance thin-layer chromatography. 633. Halpaap. 1963. Biol.G. H. 73. 18. Liq. 11. UK. Janchen and H. 1958. Stahl (ed). Stahl (ed). Tswett.29 At the present time all steps of the TLC process can be computer controlled. 1973. Background interference has been reduced.. Angew. Proc. Germany. Chemiker-Ztg. Thin-Layer Chromatography – A Laboratory Handbook. E. 1949. 144. Hall. 10. Berlin. 2nd edn.E.. E. A. ¨ 3. Anal. 23. 1951. Elsevier. Stahl (ed). 1956. Meinhard and N. R. 1989. 5. K. D. 17. Academic Press. 251–262. R. Berlin. 1977. Thin-Layer Chromatography – A Laboratory Handbook. 9. The use of highly sensitive charge coupled device (CCD) cameras has enabled the chromatographer to electronically store images of chromatograms for future use (identity or stability testing) and for direct entry into reports at a later date.A. Anal. Brighton. Randerath in Thin-Layer Chromatography. 2nd edn. Marcel Dekker Inc.E. 15. 185. R. 20. Kirchner. Gunther has reported results with amino-acids and derivatives on the TLC plate28 and Mack and Hauck similarly with their HPTLC equivalent. Chromatogr.. 1996. Kaiser (eds).4 Chapter 1 ligand exchange principle and is produced commercially either as a TLC or HPTLC ¨ plate. . Farmatisiya. Thin-Layer Chromatography..G. Izmailov and M. A. 6. 2nd edn. 1. Anal. Pharmaz. 960. E. J. J. 3. Chem. Germany. 14. E. Stahl. Fried (eds). 1903. 2. E. 11. 3 References 1.. UK. Keller. Springer-Verlag. J. 1938. 78. ¨ 4. Amsterdam. Issaq. New York. Stahl. Zlatkis. Berlin. Janchen in Handbook of Thin Layer Chromatography.E. Germany. Chem.E. Stahl. Wiley-Interscience.S. 13.F. 1959. Kaiser. Rdsch. 2nd edn. 2. ‘Instrumental Thin-Layer Chromatography/Planar Chromatography’. 1969. E. l4. UK. 26. Nat. 1989. minute no. XIV. 1969. 8. Chem. Sherma and B. D. Kaiser.J.E. Commercially available HPTLC plates coated with specially pure 4–5 mm spherical silica gel have added further capabilities to the technique. 420. Pharmazie. J. 1. and resolution further improved. 646. USA. Proceedings of the International Symposium. 6. Chichester. J. in Thin-Layer Chromatography. Burger. Kirchner. 1954. Chromatogr. Netherlands. 1988.
29. Halpaap. H. Proceedings of 3rd International Symposium. Krebs and H. 1985. E. 24. Hauck. Thin-Layer Chromatography’. Studer (eds). Switzerland. 241–253. 318. A. HPTLC high performance thin-layer chromatography. 1988. 1988. 25–37. Planar Chromatogr. Jost. H. Elsevier. ‘Instrumental High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography’. H. Kaiser (eds). Netherlands. 27. 1984. Hauck and W. Kaiser ¨ (ed).E. 1980..F. Anal.E. Hauck and H. H. H.E. Jost. J. H.E.E. J. Hauck and W.E. 1977.E. . Selvino/Bergamo. K. Zlatkis and R. Herbert. Wurzburg. Kaiser (eds). H. 304–308. Mack. Proceedings of 4th International Symposium. ‘Instrumental High Performance. Amsterdam. ¨ 28. Hauck and W. Italy. 1977. 83–91. K. K. Kaiser (ed). 3. Zlatkis and R. ‘Instrumental High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography’. Z. HRC and CC.. J. Germany. 11–30. M. 448. Chromatogr. Amsterdam. Traitler and A. Jost. 22. R. Ripphahn. Proceedings of 2nd International Symposium. 25. Kaiser. R.E.Introduction and History 5 21. A. 26.J. Burger. Elsevier. 1. R. Netherlands. Chem.E. 95–125. Interlaken. 23. in HPTLC high performance thin-layer chromatography. 228. 1987. Gunther. 215–240. Halpaap and J.. 1982.