Chromatography is an efficient method for separating and purifying compounds from complex mixtures. The origin of the name comes from the Greek word ‘chroma’, which means colour, and ‘graphein’, meaning to write. Mikhail Tsvet was the first to use chromatography. In 1900, he used this technique to separate coloured plant pigments. Today, this method is extensively used in academic and industrial research.


This topic aims to introduce you to the fascinating technique of separation and purification of compounds. You will learn how interactions between molecules help with the separation, and understand its importance in chemistry and forensic science.

Work through the documents and answer the questions to learn more about chromatography and gain hands on experience by attempting to separate different coloured compounds out of pens and markers using only household items.

Video Resource

Video Resource

Video Resource

Resource activities

Interaction Between Molecules

Work through these activities to find out more about the types of interactions between molecules.


Types of Chromatography

This activity looks at the different uses for chromatography in academic and industrial research.


Practical Experiment

Try this experiment at home! You only need nail polish remover, coffee filter paper or some paper kitchen towel, marker pens and a glass tumbler of a minimum height of 11cm.


Reflective questions

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Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

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Further reading

  • Chromeacademy

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