Quantitative Thin Layer Chromatography for Educational Settings

Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is one of the basic experimental procedures in chemistry and allows the demonstration of various chemical principles in an educational setting. An often-overlooked aspect of TLC is the capability to quantify isolated target compounds in an unknown sample. Here, we present a suitable route to implement quantitative analysis in a lesson plan. We provide a free, stand-alone software that allows students to obtain quantitative information and present two suitable experiments, namely the absorbance-based quantification of the colorant Sudan IV and the fluorescence-based quantification of Rhodamine 6G, a fluorophore widely used in biotechnology. Students conduct TLC experiments following established routes, then take pictures of their TLC plates with their mobile phones and finally quantify the amount of different compounds in the separate bands they observe.