A technique for separating or analysing mixtures of gases by chromatography. The apparatus consists of a very long tube containing the stationary phase, a nonvolatile liquid, such as a hydrocarbon oil coated on a solid support. The sample is often a volatile liquid mixture (e.g. of fatty acids), which is vaporized and swept through the column by a carrier gas (e.g. hydrogen). The components of the mixture pass through the column at different rates and are detected as they leave, either by measuring the thermal conductivity of the gas or by a flame detector.
Gas chromatography is usually used for analysis; components can be identified by the time they take to pass through the column. It is also used for separating mixtures into their components, which are then directly injected into a mass spectrometer in the technique of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.
Subjects: Science and technology — Life Sciences