High performance liquid chromatography, known as HPLC, works by using high-pressure pumps to effectively force a sample mixture containing the solvent through a column that contains a solid absorbent material.
This absorbent material (commonly silica) interacts differently with each component in the solvent. As the solvent components flow out of the column, they migrate through the column at a unique rate.
The difference in migration results in each component being separated from the mixture. A detector then generates a peak for each component and can allow us to determine the identity and concentration of the compounds.