intoductinTLC is a simple, quick, and inexpensive procedure that gives the chemist a quick answer as to how many components are in a mixture. TLC is also used to support the identity of a compound in a mixture when the Rf of a compound is compared with the Rf of a known compound (preferrably both run on the same TLC plate). A TLC plate is a sheet of glass, metal, or plastic which is coated with a thin layer of a solid adsorbent (usually silica or alumina). A small amount of the mixture to be analyzed is spotted near the bottom of this plate. The TLC plate is then placed in a shallow pool of a solvent in a developing chamber so that only the very bottom of the plate is in the liquid. This liquid, or the eluent, is the mobile phase, and it slowly rises up the TLC plate by capillary action. As the solvent moves past the spot that was applied, an equilibrium is established for each component of the mixture between the molecules of that component which are adsorbed on the solid and the molecules which are in solution. In principle, the components will differ in solubility and in the strength of their adsorption to the adsorbent and some components will be carried farther up the plate than others. When the solvent has reached the top of the plate, the plate is removed from the developing chamber, dried, and the separated components of the mixture are visualized. If the compounds are colored, visualization is straightforward. Usually the compounds are not colored, so a UV lamp is used to visualize the plates. (The plate itself contains a fluor which fluoresces everywhere except where an organic compound is on the plate.) The procedure for TLC, explained in words in the above paragraphs, is illustrated with photographs on the TLC Procedure page.