Generally, chromatography techniques can be divided into two large classes. Depending on the mobile phase, different classes of chromatography can be distinguished:

  • Gas chromatography: the mobile phase is a gas, such as Helium.

  • Liquid chromatography: the mobile phase is a liquid, such as PBS.

The stationary phase could be either liquid or solid in both classes.

Chromatography can be further divided into four categories based on the mechanism of interaction between the sample mixture and the stationary phase, as shown in table 1. These categories are adsorption, partition, ion exchange, and permeation.

There are two types of stationary phase support: column and planar layer. In column chromatography, the stationary phase is packed into a column and the mobile phase flows through. In planar layer chromatography, the stationary phase is on a flat plate or in the pores of paper, and the mobile phase moves by capillary action.


Table 1 - Different chromatographic techniques. There are 4 types of chromatography. These are adsorption, partition, ion-exchange, and permeation. There are 4 techniques that are examples of adsorption chromatography and they all use a solid stationary phase. These are gas-solid chromatography, also known as G S C or G C, liquid column chromatography, also known as L C, and high-performance liquid chromatography, also known as H P L C, and thin-layer chromatography, also known as T L C. There are 4 techniques that are examples of partition chromatography and they all use a liquid stationary phase. These are gas-liquid chromatography, also known as G L C or G C, liquid liquid chromatography, also known as L C, and high-performance liquid chromatography, also known as H P L C, and paper chromatography, also known as P C.  Ion exchange chromatography, also known as I E X, uses an exchange resin for the stationary phase. Size exclusion chromatography, also known as SEC or G P C, is an example of permeation chromatography and this technique uses a polymer matrix for the stationary phase. All the chromatography techniques in this table use a column as the stationary phase support, apart from paper chromatography and T L C which use a planar layer support. All the chromatography techniques here use a liquid as the mobile phase apart from gas-solid and gas-liquid chromatography which use a gas as the mobile phase.


Links to chromatographic techniques: