Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) is a chromatography technique used to separate non-volatile mixtures. Thin-layer chromatography is performed on a sheet of glass, plastic, or aluminium foil, which is coated with a thin layer of adsorbent material, usually silica gel, aluminium oxide, or cellulose. This layer of adsorbent is known as the stationary phase.
After the sample has been applied on the plate, a solvent or solvent mixture (known as the mobile phase) is drawn up the plate via capillary action. Because different analytes ascend the TLC plate at different rates, separation is achieved.
Thin-layer chromatography can be used to monitor the progress of a reaction, identify compounds present in a given mixture, and determine the purity of a substance. Specific examples of these applications include: analyzing ceramides and fatty acids, detection of pesticides or insecticides in food and water, analyzing the dye composition of fibers in forensics, assaying the radiochemical purity of radiopharmaceuticals, or identification of medicinal plants and their constituents