Separation Techniques

  • Mary E. Malainey
Part of the Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique book series (MATT)


Chromatography and electrophoresis are used to separate the individual constituents of complex mixtures of organic compounds. The sample, dissolved in a liquid or carried by a gaseous mobile phase, is passed through or over a stationary phase, which is a solid, gel, or liquid. Stationary phases exploit differences in the physical and chemical properties of individual components of a mixture to isolate them. The stationary phase may simply act as a filter to physically separate components on the basis of their size. In other cases, the interaction between the sample components and the stationary phase is chemical. Sample components may become partially dissolved in the stationary phase. Components with lowest affinities for the stationary phases move through the system the fastest, while those with highest affinities move the slowest. On the basis of their relative affinity for the stationary phase, individual sample components migrate through the system at different rates and separate.


Stationary Phase Isoelectric Point Basic Amino Acid Separate Component Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary E. Malainey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada

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