The analyte, the compound to be measured away from other molecules contained within the mixture, is thus separated, allowing it to be measured according to differential partitioning between stationary and mobile phases.
Chromatography can be either preparative or analytical. Preparative chromatography is used to separate a mixture's components to make them available for further use. It is therefore a type of purification process.
Analytical chromatography usually involves smaller quantities of material and serves as a measuring technique to determine relative proportions of analytes within a mixture. It is also a useful aid in the identification of substances.
Flash column chromatography is frequently used in research or medical laboratories, as, for instance, to efficiently separate broken cell slurries or culture broths. The main purpose here lies in purification and separation of substances to make them available for additional use.
Planar chromatography, as used in paper or thin layer chromatography, is particularly useful for identifying unknown substances by allowing the specific retention factor of various chemicals to be measured. This is often required both within medical and crime investigative science.
Gas chromatography is used widely in analytical chemistry. It is particularly suitable for use in environmental and petrochemical monitoring and consequently necessary remediation processes. In addition, it has extensive use within chemistry related industries and in particular chemistry research.
Chromatography is thus used in every day life for purification of substances to enable further or repeated use; the detection and identification of unknown substances/chemicals within a given mixture in medical and investigative science and a range of analytical and research related processes within a biological, medical and chemical context.