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Whether you're looking to identify an unknown liquid at a hazardous material spill, identify suspected narcotics, or verify the identity of labeled heart medication pills, Raman spectroscopy, a form of vibrational spectroscopy, is a proven and trusted technology that provides highly accurate results.
The sections below are designed to provide a general overview on how Raman works as well as provide application-specific information.
In Raman spectroscopy, an unknown sample of material is illuminated with monochromatic (single wavelength or single frequency) laser light, which can be absorbed, transmitted, reflected, or scattered by the sample. Light scattered from the sample is due to either elastic collisions of the light with the sample's molecules (Rayleigh scatter) or inelastic collisions (Raman scatter). Whereas Rayleigh scattered light has the same frequency (wavelength) of the incident laser light, Raman scattered light returns from the sample at different frequencies corresponding to the vibrational frequencies of the bonds of the molecules in the sample.
Since the bonds for every molecule are different, the Raman scattering for every molecule is also different. Thus, a Raman spectral "fingerprint" can be generated by recording the intensity of light as a function of the frequency difference between the laser and Raman scattered light.
In a typical powdered substance, the intensity Raman scattering is roughly 10 million times less than the intensity of Rayleigh scattered light, and therefore very sensitive instrumentation is needed for Raman spectroscopy.
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