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1952: Dr Archer Martin

Dr Archer Martin (MRC National Institute for Medical Research) won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography, which allowed mixtures to be separated. Methods for separating substances are fundamental in chemistry; the first thing a chemist does is isolate the substance that he or she is interested in. Also, the technique can be applied to disease diagnosis and forensic science.

In its simplest form, which is filter-paper chromatography, a drop of a mixture is placed on a piece of filter paper, and the paper allowed to soak up a combination of liquids, such as water and butyl alcohol. The components of the mixture separate on the paper according to how well they dissolve in the two liquids.