chromatography krō˝mətŏg´rəfē [key], resolution of a chemical mixture into its component compounds by passing it through a system that retards each compound to a varying degree; a system capable of accomplishing this is called a chromatograph. The retarding system can be a surface adsorbant, such as silica, alumina, cellulose, or charcoal, capable of reversibly adsorbing the compounds (see adsorption). The earliest use of this technique, by the Russian botanist Mikhail Tsvett (c.1903), involved the separation of highly colored compounds, hence the name chromatography [Gr.,=color recording].

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