Academic Year 12

Year 12s separate and identify amino acids.

Sixth Form Biologists have been separating amino acids by using thin layer chromatography. In one lesson, they put four spots of different amino acids – three known and one unknown – on the bottom of chromatography plates before placing the paper upright in a solvent.

Overnight, the solvent slowly travelled up the paper, carrying the different acids, at different rates, with it. The next morning, the Year 12s developed the plates by spraying them with a chemical and heating them.

This process allowed them to see the acids appear as different coloured spots at different heights. By calculating the distance they had moved, they were then able to figure out which amino acids had been placed on the strip, identify the known ones and work out the unknown (a mixture of two of the others).

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