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Difference Between TLC and GLC


“TLC” and “GLC” are two techniques in chromatography, the act of separating mixtures into individual components using laboratory techniques. Chromatography involves two phases in its arsenal of techniques; the mobile phase and the stationary phase. The mobile phase “delivers” and interacts with the compound while the stationary phase is when the mixtures become separated.

“TLC” stands for “thin layer chromatography” while “GLC” is short for gas-liquid chromatography. Both techniques are capable of separating the components of a mixture, identifying a compound, determining the purity of a substance, and monitoring the progress of reaction of the mixture.

Specific Purposes of TLC and GLC

Both techniques are not alike in many respects, and the differences are glaring. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is meant to separate the solids and some liquids. This technique specifically uses liquids in the mobile phase and solids in the stationary phase. The stationary phase has a thin layer for absorbency that helps in sorting out the mixture. There is another form of TLC that has no known counterpart in GLC, and that’s HPTLC, short for high-performance thin layer chromatography.

Gas-liquid chromatography, on the other hand, is intended to separate gases. This technique uses gas as its mobile phase and liquid as the stationary phase. GLC is called by different names; gas chromatography, vapor phase chromatography, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, among them.

Differences in Classification

Thin layer chromatography is classified as a technique for chromatic bed shape, a widely used technique that is often applied in various venues in the laboratory. Gas-liquid chromatography, on the other hand, is categorized as a technique by the physical state of the mobile phase. This technique is mainly used in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, chemistry research, and industrial chemistry.

Differences in Usage Requirements

TLC can be used with simple materials like beakers, watch glasses, and the thin-layer chromatography plate (with the absorbent). Gas-liquid chromatography, meanwhile, requires special equipment known as a gas chromatograph, or gas separator.  In gas chromatography, extraction happens in an enclosed space, and the liquid stationary phase is smeared on the walls of the container. There is also the factor of temperature in doing gas chromatography.


  1. Chromatography is a laboratory procedure to extract components of a mixture.
  2. Thin layer chromatography and gas-liquid chromatography, as their names imply, are two types of chromatography. Both use two kinds of phases, the mobile phase and the stationary phase.
  3. Aside from separating mixtures, both techniques can also determine the purity of the substance and identify a compound from the mixture.
  4. The states of matter involved in both chromatographies are different when acting in the mobile and stationary phase. In thin layer chromatography, the mobile phase is a liquid while the stationary phase is a solid. In contrast, gas chromatography uses gas in the mobile phase and liquid in the stationary phase.
  5. Another difference is the type of matter that the techniques can separate. In thin layer chromatography, the compounds are usually solids and some liquids. Meanwhile, gas-liquid chromatography separates gases.
  6. The names of the techniques also come from the procedures themselves. Thin layer chromatography is so named because its characteristics of the stationary phase which is solid with an added absorbent. In contrast, the name of gas-liquid chromatography is derived from the two states of matter involved in its mobile and stationary phases.
  7. Doing a thin layer chromatography can be flexible. The important requirement is the thin-layer chromatography plate. Gas chromatography is more complex and requires the use of a special machine called a gas chromatograph. Gas chromatography uses a  gas separator.

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