Yes it is possible to look at the absorption spectra of different pigments after separation using paper chromatography.
Separation of plant pigments using paper chromatography is a very popular lab that used to be part of the AP Biology Curriculum. It is also a very popular lab activity that is done at many colleges. This lab can be found in Advanced Biology with Vernier (BIO-A)
Separation of plant pigments using paper chromatography uses a solution of petroleum ether and acetone. This results in separate bands for chlorophyll a, b and other accessory pigments from leaves such as spinach.
These pigments are not soluble in water, but are very soluble in alcohol.
After performing paper chromatography on the plant pigments, let the paper dry, and then cut out your bands of interest.
If you are following the protocol outlined in our book, you will need 5-10 bands for each pigment to get good results with the SpectroVis Plus (SVIS-PL, discontinued). Add each collection of bands associated with a given pigment to a small container containing 3 mL of 70% isopropal alcohol. Label the container so that you will remember which collection of bands was placed in it. Repeat this for your other bands. You should wind up with 4 bottles that contain the bands that correspond to chlorophyll b, a, and two other accessory pigments. Let the bottles sit overnight to allow the pigments to solubilize in the alcohol.
The Turbidity Bottles (6 bottles) (TRB-BOT) work very well as small bottles for this experiment.
You can then look at the absorption spectra of each pigment.
Make sure you calibrate against your solvent (70% isopropyl alcohol). Then look at the absorption spectra of a given pigment by adding the solution from a given bottle to a cuvette and then collect a spectrum. Pour the solution back in the bottle or dispose of it properly. Store the run and then repeat for the next bottle / pigment.
We also have a procedure for isolating plant pigments using column chromatography. This procedure can be found in our Organic Chemistry with Vernier book.
Please note that this protocol uses acetone as a solvent and uses a UV-VIS spectrometer.
Acetone will etch or dissolve standard plastic cuvettes. As such, this protocol uses the quartz cuvettes that come with the Vernier UV-VIS Spectrophotometer (VSP-UV).
If you were to use this protocol with the Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer (GDX-SVISPL) you would need to use glass cuvettes.