With the commercial introduction of plates coated with fine particles by MERCK in the late 1970s, the foundation for the evolution of HPTLC was laid. Over the last four decades, significant progress has been seen in the development of instruments. Most recently, even fully automatic systems became available. The available tools - instrument and software - have supported scientific research of all aspects of planar chromatography, stimulated curiosity, and expanded the range of what is possible. Yet, it seems that it was the discussion of a rigorous concept of standardization, its subsequent implementation into pharmacopoeias, and the resulting enforcement by authorities, that made HPTLC a distinct and accepted technique for routine analysis, particularly in quality control of herbal materials. What will be next? This presentation connects fundamental concepts, such as standardization and comprehensive HPTLC fingerprinting, with current ideas about the evaluation of system suitability, comparison of data across multiple plates, and the use of complementary developing solvents, leading to HPTLC 4.0. This vision may be developed into a global platform for collaboration of researchers and routine users of HPTLC. It has the potential of taking the inherent advantages of planar chromatography into a bright future.
HPTLC Association, Rheinfelden, Switzerland
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