Market Profile: Thin Layer Chromatography

Jun 14, 2011
By LCGC Editors


2009 TLC Industrial Distribution
Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is a planar chromatographic technique introduced in the 1950s as a fast, easy and inexpensive method for qualitative analysis. Just as with column chromatography, the chemistry and size of the particles (as well as the thickness of the layer) affects the speed and nature of the separations that are possible. After the sample is applied near one edge, the plate is developed by dipping the edge into solvent and allowing the separation to take place. Once the process nears completion, the plate is dried and various methods can be used to derive qualitative and quantitative measurements from the plate. These methods include densitometry, fluorometry and even mass spectrometry.

The three largest industrial applications for thin layer chromatography are in clinical, pharmaceutical and food testing accounting for more than half of the market demand, combined. One of the most common specific types of clinical tests performed with TLC is for the presence of drugs of abuse. In the pharmaceutical industry, TLC is widely used in production and quality assurance applications. The presence or absence of substances can be determined qualitatively, while quantitative tests can determine the purity of a drug sample. Within the food industry, TLC is used for many different applications, ranging from lipid separation to food dye analysis.

Although TLC can be fully automated, it is commonly a manual technique. Consequently, aftermarket supplies and consumables dominate the market, which are composed of sorbents, reagents, standardized TLC plates and capillary tubes for sample application, among a host of other small, inexpensive yet crucial products. TLC faces competition from HPLC and, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, flash chromatography.

The foregoing data was extracted and adapted from SDi's Global Assessment Report, 11th Edition. For more information, contact Glenn Cudiamat, VP of Research Services, Strategic Directions International, Inc., 6242 Westchester Parkway, Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90045, (310) 641-4982, fax: (310) 641-8851, e-mail: