Chromatography is a lab process commonly used to separate the individual components
of chemical mixtures. The multi-step process operates on the principle that different
chemicals dissolve to different degrees or stick to a solid surface, scientifically known as
adsorption and partition chromatography. There are a number of techniques of
chromatography but all of them are focused on only one aim; to identify the chemicals
in the mixture by the separation of the compounds. Chromatography is extremely
popular and has emerged as a preferred method of scientific analysis because the
chemicals being analyzed do not undergo any molecular changes as a result of the
process. Chromatography finds uses in an incredible number of diverse applications,
some of the more common being:

Forensic Testing

Those who follow TV programs like law and order and CSI know how criminals are
caught by the testing of crime scene evidence like blood or samples of cloth and fabric,
identifying the chemicals responsible for a building burning down or testing blood
samples taken from dead bodies to determine the level of poisonous substances,
alcohol, drugs, etc. The experts at the forensic laboratories are able to give an accurate
reason behind many crimes by conducting chromatography of the samples collected
from the crime scene.

Food Testing

The scandal that revealed that some vendors had been passing off horsemeat as beef
served to highlight the limitations of conventional methods of food analysis and threw
chromatography into the limelight as it was very successfully used to determine the
origins of the processed meat samples with great accuracy. A combination of two
methods, high-performance liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry was used to
successfully determine if the processed meat was indeed beef or adulterated with
horsemeat. Every food testing that chromatography is used for is not necessarily gruesome; many of the leading food manufacturers use chromatography to maintain the
quality standards of their products so that customers are able to rely on the same taste
and experience every time they purchase a drink and more.

Testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs

It is common knowledge that many sportspersons take drugs that are specifically
intended to boost their performance in competitive sports. Since many of these drugs
are banned, as a matter of routine, blood samples drawn from the winners of events are
tested in chromatography columns to see if there is any presence of the banned
substances in the blood samples. Doping tests are also conducted on horses because
racing often involves very high stakes.

Creating Vaccinations

Chromatography has also been used successfully to save millions of lives because of its
widespread use in the determination of the identification of antibodies capable of
fighting against viruses and diseases. Most notably, chromatography has been used in
the development of Zmapp, the experimental immunization process for finding out the
best antibodies for neutralizing the deadly Ebola virus that was responsible for
thousands of deaths in multiple countries.


With its diverse applications, chromatography has emerged as a very successful and
accurate tool for scientific researchers in various fields to test chemical mixtures to
determine its constituents. Due to its versatility, it has found multiple applications in
our everyday life ranging from forensics to the development of vaccines.

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