Raman Spectroscopy

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Raman spectroscopy is a form of vibrational spectroscopy that is used to observe changes in a molecule; these may be rotational, vibrational or some other form. It helps to understand the characteristic and specific structure of a molecule by which it can be identified.

Portable Raman Spectrometer. Image Credit: Forance / Shutterstock
Portable Raman Spectrometer. Image Credit: Forance / Shutterstock


The basis of the technique is the Raman effect. This is based on the way the electronic cloud around a molecule interacts with an external electrical field produced by monochromatic light incident on the sample.

Depending on how easily the molecule can be polarized, a dipole moment is induced within the molecule. In other words, inelastic scattering of light from a laser or other monochromatic light source occurs in the spectrum between near-infrared to near-ultraviolet waves.

Here observed bands arise in the spectrum due to changes in the polarizability of the molecule in response to its interaction with light. Each band thus represents a specific molecular vibration and a particular energy transition.

These are plotted to provide a so-called molecular fingerprint which is unique for each molecule.


A laser beam is used to illuminate the sample. A lens is used to collect the radiation from the illuminated spot, which is then  directed into a monochromator. Any elastic scattered radiation, which results from the laser line (Rayleigh scattering), is removed by filtering. The remainder which is scattered inelastically is dispersed to fall on a detector.

Inelastic scattering refers to the change in wavelength and hence energy of the incident photon due to its interaction with the molecule, putting it into a different vibrational and rotational level. That is, if the final state of the molecule is a higher-energy than the initial state, the scattering results in a photon of lower energy to conserve the total system energy.

The opposite happens if the final state of the molecule is lower in energy than the initial. This results in a shift in frequency between the incoming and scattered photon, either a downshift or Stokes shift, or an upshift or anti-Stokes shift. The intensity of the shift is obviously dependent upon the rovibronic states of the molecule.

Inelastic scattering is weak compared to Rayleigh scattering, and therefore many instruments have been developed over time to separate the two, such as holographic gratings and photomultipliers were used as detectors. Currently notch or edge filters are the instrument of choice for laser rejection and CCD detectors.

Variants of this technique include surface-enhanced, resonance, tip-enhanced and stimulated Raman spectroscopy.


The Raman effect has some benefits compared to infra-red spectroscopy such as:

  • Avoiding the need for sample preparation
  • Aqueous solutions can be used as water scatters light very weakly
  • Ordinary glass sample holders are sufficient for use
  • Carbon dioxide does not have to be purged as it is a weak scatterer
  • The results reflect chemical structure accurately
  • Both organic and inorganic molecules can be studied


Raman spectroscopy has become a widely used method of chemical analysis and molecular characterization of many compounds and chemicals.

It has become invaluable in solid-state physics, for the characterization of materials and delineation of the crystallographic orientation of studied specimens.

It is also proving its worth in nanotechnology, tissue imaging, and detection of pharmaceutical agents, including illegal drug detection, among numerous other uses.

Forensic Investigation Enhanced by Raman Spectroscopy Research at UAlbany


  • http://www.inphotonics.com/raman.htm
  • http://www.kosi.com/na_en/products/raman-spectroscopy/raman-technical-resources/raman-tutorial.php
  • http://www.andor.com/learning-academy/raman-spectroscopy-an-introduction-to-raman-spectroscopy
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090536X15000477
  • http://www.spectroscopynow.com/details/education/sepspec1882education/An-Introduction-to-Raman-Spectroscopy-Introduction-and-Basic-Principles.html?tzcheck=1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1&&tzcheck=1
  • https://www.tu-darmstadt.de/

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Dr. Liji Thomas

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Thomas, Liji. (2023, July 19). Raman Spectroscopy. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 18, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Raman-Spectroscopy.aspx.

  • MLA

    Thomas, Liji. "Raman Spectroscopy". News-Medical. 18 May 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Raman-Spectroscopy.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Thomas, Liji. "Raman Spectroscopy". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Raman-Spectroscopy.aspx. (accessed May 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Thomas, Liji. 2023. Raman Spectroscopy. News-Medical, viewed 18 May 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Raman-Spectroscopy.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Revolutionizing brain tumor treatment: the rise of AI in neuro-oncology