Raman Spectroscopy

Mumbai-based Tata Memorial Centre has turned to Raman Spectroscopy to detect RNA viruses present in saliva samples

This conceptual framework to detect RNA viruses in saliva could form the basis for field application of Raman Spectroscopy in managing viral outbreaks, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

What is Raman Spectroscopy?

Raman scattering (or the Raman effect) was discovered in 1928 by C.V. Raman who won the Nobel prize for his work.

When light is scattered from a molecule or crystal, most photons are elastically scattered. The scattered photons have the same energy (frequency) and, therefore, wavelength, as the incident photons. However, a small fraction of light is scattered at optical frequencies different from, and usually lower than, the frequency of the incident photons.

The process leading to this inelastic scatter is termed the Raman effect.

Raman spectroscopy looks at the scattered lightIt has changed frequency because, during the scattering process, its energy changed by interacting with molecular vibrations of the material.By studying the vibration of the atoms we can discover the chemical composition and other useful information about the material

If the scattering is elastic, the process is called Rayleigh scattering. If it’s not elastic, the process is called Raman scattering.

Raman spectroscopy relies upon inelastic scattering of photons, known as Raman scattering.

A Raman spectrometer was deployed on the Viking landers in 1972 and in other missions. Raman spectroscopy also has important scientific applications in studying molecular structure. In this experiment we will study both kinds of applications.

Applications of Raman Spectroscopy:

Medical Diagnostics

Raman spectroscopy has been repeatedly shown to have massive potential for point-of-care medical diagnostics and monitoring due to its ability to provide a non-contact non-destructive molecular fingerprint of many common physiological biomarkers.

In the field of cancer detection alone there have been thousands of research papers published ranging from applications such as interoperative cancer boundary detection during breast, brain, and oral tumor removal to urine testing for monitoring lung cancer response to treatment.

Not only are most common biomolecules, such as nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and fats highly Raman active due to their nonpolar molecular structure, but perhaps, more importantly, the abundance of water in these samples does not interfere with the spectra due to the extreme polarity of water molecules.

Geology and Mineralogy

  • Gemstone and mineral identification
  • Fluid inclusions
  • Mineral and phase distribution in rock sections

Life Sciences

  • Bio-compatibility
  • DNA/RNA analysis
  • Drug/cell interactions
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
  • Metabolic accretions
  • Disease diagnosis
  • Single cell analysis
  • Cell sorting
  • Characterization of bio-molecules
  • Bone structure

Carbon Materials

  • Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs)
  • Purity of carbon nanotubes (CNTs)
  • Electrical properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs)
  • sp2 and sp3 structure in carbon materials
  • Hard disk drives
  • Diamond like carbon (DLC) coating properties
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