Thin layer chromatography: a modern practical approach

Thin layer chromatography: a modern practical approach 
Peter Wall 
Cambridge, UK: RSC| 2005 | 176pp | ?69.95 (HB) | ISSN 085404535X 
Reviewed by Graham Mills

Chemists of a certain age will remember the glass tanks for performing paper and thin-layer chromatography (TLC) that used to litter the bench. Sadly, with the advent of more sophisticated instrumental techniques, such as gas and high performance liquid chromatography, many of these tanks have now ended up as decorative containers or even as fish tanks! However, we should not underestimate the value of planar chromatography. 

These methods allowed us to gain an understanding of the mechanism of complex organic reactions and metabolic pathways from the 1960s to the 1980s and the technique still has an important role in today’s highly automated analytical laboratory. 

This monograph (which is part of the RSC chromatography series edited by R M Smith) provides a concise guide to the theory, practice and application of TLC. The reader is taken through different chapters that introduce in a logical order one particular aspect of the method: choice of sorbent material, sample application, selection of development solvents, visualisation, and quantification methods.  

Each chapter is well illustrated by figures, tables and photographs of specific pieces of apparatus. I was pleased to see that the hyphenation of TLC to other instrumental methods has been included. The emphasis throughout is on practical guidance and the book should be equally of use to both the novice and the experienced practitioner.  

Wall has covered all aspects of the methodology in a succinct and easy to read way. However, I would have liked to have seen a separate and well referenced chapter or set of linked tables on specific applications because this could have increased the overall usefulness of the book. Furthermore it already appears to be slightly dated, as the latest reference quoted is from the year 2000. 

With these provisos, the book is a useful addition to the chromatography series and it should have appeal to a broad cross-section of chromatographers as an informative guide.