TLC, patience, pigments.

Yesterday I worked on using thin layer chromatography (TLC) to separate the pigments in the two species of Algae I am working with for my experiment. The concept of chromatography is that a solvent dissolves the pigments and then by capillary action rises slowly along the TLC strip. There are several factors that determine how far the pigments will move on the TLC strip. Solubility in solvent; the greater the solubility the further the pigment will travel. Molecular size/weight the lighter the pigment the further it will travel. Polarity/Hydrophobicity, H-bonding, the more similar the bonding between the solvent and the pigment the further it will travel. and finally, adhesion. The greater the affinity of the pigment to the TLC strip the shorter the distance the pigment will travel. Using these properties pigments can be separated using this technique.

Microalgae cultures are put in falcon tubes and centrifuged to separate the algae from the media.


After centrifuge remove the supernatant, and keep the pellet of algae.

Here is a TLC strip ready to put in the solvent.



You can start to see the pigments being pulled up the TLC silica sheet.


After four trials we had a conclusion… Our experiment didn’t work. No pigments were separated. Take two tomorrow.


Fun evening at the Brewery after a long day in the lab.

If at first you don’t succeed clear your mind at the Brewery, play board games and try again tomorrow.

3 Responses to “TLC, patience, pigments.”
  1. I am sorry your experiment didn’t work D:

    The last quote you have is certainly a variation of what I’ve been told 😛

    • Mr. Chopp says:

      I am getting closer to having a good pigment extraction. I’m tweaking some things. I love the process of science. We (teachers) do it a disservice to make it seem to easy. The fun is in figuring out what goes wrong and finding solutions. I’m finding a lot of ways not to extract pigment from micro algae.

  2. Naveena says:

    Wow, this chromatography experiment sounds very intricate. Will we be working with algae during the school year?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: