How chromatography is used in forensic science?

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Chromatography is the science of separation. It is used to separate out compounds from a mixture by differential partitioning between a mobile phase and a stationary phase. Forensic science deals with collection and analysis of evidence pertaining to a court case or an investigation. Chromatography can be advantageously used in...

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forensic science for separation of compounds. At a crime scene, for example, chromatography can be used to determine if the dead person has alcohol or drugs or a poison in his/her body and this can be used to determine the cause of death. Drunk-drivers can also be caught by determining the content of alcohol in their body. At explosion sites, specific types of explosives can be separated from the debris to better investigate the crime. Similarly, body fragments (Such as blood or nail or hair) can be used to identify the victims, etc. 

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How is paper chromatography used in crime scenes?

Ink is a homogenous mixture that is made up of dyes of several different colors. Each brand of ink consists of a different ratio and type of dyes. Paper chromatography can be used to separate the dyes that compose an ink. During paper chromatography, a dot of the dye is placed at the base of a piece of chromatography paper. The end of the paper that contains the dot is then dipped into water. The dyes that comprise an ink separate based on their polarities.  The ratio to which a dye in the ink moves in respect to the distance that the front of the solvent moves up the chromatography paper is called the Rf vale. The Rf value stands for “ratio-to-front”. By separating the colors of an ink that was used in a crime scene, and comparing the separated pattern to the inks of several other pens, police and other officials can determine what pen was used on a crime scene.

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What are some forensic applications of chromatography? 

Chromatography is a separation technique that is based on the separation of different components of a mixture between two phases: the stationary phase and the mobile phase. Depending on the affinity of a component for the stationary phase, it may spend more or less time in the separation column as compared to other components, and in this way can be separated from other components of the mixture. There are a number of different chromatography techniques, including gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

There are a number of applications of chromatography in forensics. An example is a check to determine if a note is written by the same ink or different ink. Another example is the presence of toxins in body fluids. Chromatography can also be used to check urine samples for the presence of any drugs or chemicals. Using chromatography, we can separate chemicals present in inks, dyes, urine and other body fluids. It can also be used to test fabrics, explosive materials, etc. 

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