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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss chromatography as a means of separating mixtures, widely used when testing water and air quality, in forensics and drug manufacture.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins, development and uses of chromatography. In its basic form, it is familiar to generations of schoolchildren who put a spot of ink at the bottom of a strip of paper, dip it in water and then watch the pigments spread upwards, revealing their separate colours. Chemists in the 19th Century started to find new ways to separate mixtures and their work was taken further by Mikhail Tsvet, a Russian-Italian scientist who is often credited with inventing chromatography in 1900. The technique has become so widely used, it is now an integral part of testing the quality of air and water, the levels of drugs in athletes, in forensics and in the preparation of pharmaceuticals.


Andrea Sella
Professor of Chemistry at University College London

Apryll Stalcup
Professor of Chemical Sciences at Dublin City University


Leon Barron
Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science at King's College London.

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 4 Feb 2016 21:30


Andrea Sella at University College London

Apryll Stalcup at Dublin City University

Leon Barron at King's College London

Tsvett’s column - Chemistry World

Martin’s columns - Chemistry World

Runge’s pictures - Chemistry World

D’Alelio’s resins - Chemistry World

Chromatography - Learn Chemistry


BBC GCSE Bitesize - Chromatography

Colour quest - The Royal Institution

Chromatography - Wikipedia



Daniel C. Harris, Quantitative Chemical Analysis (W. H. Freeman & Co Ltd, 2015)

Lloyd R. Snyder, Joseph J. Kirkland, John W. Dolan, Introduction to Modern Liquid Chromatography (Wiley, 2009)

Ferenc Szabadvary, History of Analytical Chemistry (CRC Press, 1993)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Andrea Sella
Interviewed Guest Apryll Stalcup
Interviewed Guest Leon Barron


  • Thu 4 Feb 2016 09:00
  • Thu 4 Feb 2016 21:30

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