27.07.2012Prof. Gertrud Morlock , Universität Gießen, Institut für Ernährungswissenschaft
In 2013, planar chromatography will celebrate its 75th anniversary. It seems to be an old technique with minor contribution to analytical tasks of today and, based on its versatility in the performance level, controversy is an ongoing issue for planar chromatography. It depends on the level of advanced knowledge and experience of the analyst, whether it is considered as a unique chromatographic technique for challenging analytical problems or as a dispensable inferior version of liquid column chromatography.
Planar chromatography never hit the critical mass necessary to promote the method itself, or obtained satisfactory teaching and consequently respective recognition and funding. The statement "Most people approach TLC with feeling rather than with knowledge, with the inevitable consequence of hazardous results and disorientation about TLC's real potential" is still up-to-date. Despite those obstacles, high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) significantly developed further in the last decades. Unrivalled features through the planar, image-giving format attracted analysts" interest for true sample comparisons. Standardization of the method made chromatograms comparable which paved the way for the establishment of image databases. The combined hyphenation to bioassays and high resolution mass spectrometry allowed the rapid, direct link to the compounds indicating the effect (effect-directed analysis). Such an effective strategy could revolutionize natural product search. It can even be concluded that planar chromatography still has brilliant potential left. Not only the high flexibility with regard to hyphenations, but also the new discipline office chromatography will impact further the progress of planar chromatography through combining innovative print & media technologies with chromatography.