Chromatography is a method by which a mixture is separated by distributing its components between two phases. The stationary phase remains fixed in place while the mobile phase carries the components of the mixture through the medium being used. The stationary phase acts as a constraint on many of the components in a mixture, slowing them down to move slower than the mobile phase. The movement of the components in the mobile phase is controlled by the significance of their interactions with the mobile and/or stationary phases. Because of the differences in factors such as the solubility of certain components in the mobile phase and the strength of their affinities for the stationary phase, some components will move faster than others, thus facilitating the separation of the components within that mixture.
Thumbnail: Two-dimensional chromatograph GCxGC-TOFMS at Chemical Faculty of GUT Gdańsk, Poland, 2016. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 4.0; LukaszKatlewa).