Category Archives: Thin Layer Chromatography

Analtech Technical Director Featured in LCGC Roundtable

Our Technical Director, Ned Dugan, recently participated in a Ned Dugandiscussion about Thin Layer Chromatography with Ling Bei and Dave Lentz of EMD Chemicals and the editors of LCGC.

Here’s a couple of excerpts:


What developments have you the most excited or intrigued in TLC?

Dugan: There are two categories that come to mind. First, I’m excited to see TLC making a significant difference in people lives, whether that’s protecting people from counterfeit anti-malarial medication or helping law enforcement catch criminals through ink analysis.

The second category involves applications that a person just wouldn’t normally think about. For example, using TLC to determine the difference between diesel smokes (whether the smoke contains a potent carcinogen or not). That makes me wonder just how TLC is going to be applied in the next 5–10 years.

Bei & Lentz: Anything that will help spread the word that TLC does more than you think and that it can help solve a lot of modern problems.

Continued automation and software breakthroughs have allowed TLC users to control variables and achieve better reproducibility and faster results and to finally develop rugged, validated methods. Now it also allows them to interface with lab data and LIMS systems.

What are the pros and cons of using TLC in a food safety lab? How about in an environmental lab?

Dugan: The advantages of using TLC in food safety and environmental labs are the same as using TLC in any lab. It is an easy-to-use method that can accommodate multiple samples and standards simultaneously. It is inexpensive and affords (pun intended) the analyst a snapshot into the constituents of a sample matrix in a way that other forms of chromatography simply can not provide.

The downside of TLC is that it is only one tool in the toolbox. One tool won’t fix all problems. It takes the collection of tools to effectively manage an analytical laboratory.

Bei & Lentz: Common advantages of TLC for both types of labs include little or no cleanup even for some “dirty” samples, multiple parallel separations under identical run conditions for high throughput, and very much lower initial and consumable costs compared to HPLC or GC. Plus, every component of even extremely complex food or environmental samples is somewhere on the developed TLC plate and can be isolated using specific visualization or indicator reagents, then scraped off and recovered for further analysis or purification.

What do you hope and expect to see in the future for TLC?

Dugan: What I expect to see is TLC being used more often for the versatile tool that it is in multiple fields of science. I hope to see TLC applied to even more areas that would make a significant difference in the world. For example, helping to develop and test potential alternatives to fossil fuels or developing new methods for cleaning water supplies.

You can read the complete discussion here.


Celebrating Metrics Week in Chromatography

Since 1976, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has marked the week of October 10 as Metric Week (Oct. 10 = 10/10).10TS002 SI globe LR resized 600

This year is especially nice, with the date being 10/10/10.

Once in a great while, we get requests for 8 x 8 thin layer chromatography plates – and that’s when we are reminded that not everyone has adopted the metric system (aka “international system of units” or “SI”).

20cmThe whole concept of a decimal-based system of measurements was first proposed in 1585 by Simon Stevin in his book, “The Tenth.”

The idea has been embraced by great minds like Thomas Jefferson, and the U.S. Mint produced the world’s first decimal currency in 1792.

Click Here for more interesting facts surrounding the history of the Metric System.

Click Here for more on Metric Week from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

By the way, we won’t say anything bad about you if you order 8 x 8 plates, just don’t be surprised when you get them and they say “20 x 20” on the side of the box.

Book: “Plant Drug Analysis” – limited copies available

The Book “Plant Drug Analysis” – by H. Wagner & S. Bladt – is currently out of print. But, we’re happy to say that we’ve gotten our hands on a few copies.

Here’s a synopsis:

This paperback second edition of Plant Drug Analysis includes more than 200 updated color photographs of superb quality demonstrating chromatograms of all relevant standard drugs. The atlas will be a useful reference for analyzing plant drugs, identifying unknown drugs or monitoring the purity or constituents of a given drug.


Plant Drug Analysis excerpt

All drugs presented meet the standard of the official pharmacopoeia and originate from well-defined botanical sources. With this guide the technique of thin layer chromatography can be easily used without previous pharmacognostic training. Only commercially available equipment and reagents are needed, the sources as well as all practical details are given.

Click here to learn more and to order your copy – there’s only a few copies left!


Thoughts on thin layer chromatography from Associate Professor Barney Grubbs

While we were at the ACS Fall Meeting, we got to meet Barney Grubbsseveral great people who use chromatography on a regular basis.

Barney Grubbs is Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stony Brook State University of New York and Scientist with the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Barney says his research group is interested in the common ground shared by polymer, organic, and materials chemistry and they are involved in the design, synthesis, and characterization of polymer-based organic materials.

Barney spent a few minutes with us talking about how he and his students use Thin Layer Chromatography in their work.

Homeland Security, Forensics, Ink, and Thin Layer Chromatography

NewsWise has an interesting article about the U.S. Secret Service using Thin Layer Chromatography to analyze inks – here’s someInkLibrary2 resized 600 excerpts:

Inks in one form or another have been around for at least 5,000 years. Scientists can analyze an ink’s components and determine when it was first manufactured, its brand, its composition, and other information by comparing the analysis results to the more than 10,000 inks and matching analyses stored in the International Ink Library managed by the U.S. Secret Service.

To analyze an ink sample, forensic scientists separate its components using planar thin layer chromatography. This process uses solvents to separate the ink into bands of color on a page. Each ink creates its own color bands, thus forming a “fingerprint.” Scientists compare the unknown sample’s bands to known samples to find a match.

You can read the complete article by clicking here.

And here’s that great clip from CSI showing ink analysis with Thin Layer Chromatography:


While participating at the National Association of Scientific Materials Managers Conference in Norfolk, we had some great questions come up – we wanted to take a moment to address the general questions here (some of the more specific questions we’ll be addressing in e-mails).

Q: We’re trying to offer our students multiple chances to run thinscored plates layer chromatography experiments, but we want to control costs, what can you recommend?

A: We would recommend trying our scored glass-backed plates. As you can see in the photo here, a 20 x 20 cm plate can be easily snapped into smaller (2.5 x 10 cm) sizes.

Q: Why did you decide to color your HPLC Columns?

color columnsA: Excellent question! In addition to the fact that we use an advanced packing material that provides close to 100% coverage inside the columns, we realized that traditional columns can be easily mixed up if their labels come off. By color-coding the columns, you always know what material you have inside the column.

Q: We LOVE the video you did and we want to share it with friends, family, and colleagues – where is it available online?

A: We’re proud of our video, “The Adventures of Ana L’Tech” – it’s been featured on numerous web sites and blogs, and has even been inducted into the Viral Marketing Hall of Fame.

Click Here for the official video web site, Click Here for the YouTube version, or just watch it right here:

Teaching thin Layer Chromatography at Elon University

One of the great things about trade shows and conferences is connecting with educators and find out how they are using chromatography in the classroom.

At the NAOSMM conference we were thrilled to talk with Paul Weller, Science Laboratory Manager at Elon University’s Department of Chemistry.

In this video, Weller explains how he uses Thin Layer Chromatography in the classroom.

Company continues Lean Journey in manufacturing Thin Layer Chromatography plates

Our Company started working with the Delaware Lean processManufacturing Extension Partnership (DEMEP) in January of 2009 to see where we could streamline procedures, operate more efficiently, and make ongoing improvements.

Anyone who has embarked on a Lean Journey knows that it is an ongoing process with new tools and concepts to consider on a regular basis.

Thanks to this partnership, we’ve been able to produce our quality Thin Layer Chromatography plates more efficiently, improve our ordering system, and move to a four-day work week.

This week, our partners at DEMEP are working with us to explore more ways to make improvements to our system.

We just thought this might be a good opportunity to take a trip back in the time machine that is video to show some highlights of our first session with DEMEP:

Thin Layer Chromatography identifies toxicity of diesel smoke

Chemical and Engineering News has a report about a new Chemical Research in Toxicology paper that outlines how deisel smokeThin Layer Chromatography is used to differentiate between a potent carcinogen found in diesel exhaust (3-nitrobenzanthrone or 3-NBA) and 2-NBA, which is largely the product of a nitration reaction that happens spontaneously in the atmosphere.

Here’s an excerpt:

The team incubated each isomer with DNA and a variety of enzymes, and then used thin layer chromatography to determine the extent to which the DNA had been altered. Because 2-NBA did not form potentially harmful DNA adducts, the researchers determined that it is not a substrate for enzymes that activate 3-NBA toward DNA. In experiments with intact human liver cells, 3-NBA again generated DNA adducts, whereas 2-NBA did not.

 Click Here to read the article.