Automation is an essential and effective element of many industries. Numerous technologies have been developed, evaluated and applied in industrial automation, from analytical techniques to sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence. This article will explore the role of Raman spectroscopy in the field of industrial automation and its benefits for industrial processes.
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What is Raman Spectroscopy?
Raman spectroscopy was first developed by C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan in 1928.
The analytical technique measures a sample’s vibrational energy modes using scattered light to reveal structural and chemical information on a substance. A substance’s characteristic fingerprint, known as the “Raman fingerprint, " identifies that substance.
Raman scattering is an inelastic process wherein energy transfer occurs between the molecule and a scattered photon.
Other forms of light scattering that occur when a molecule is excited by a laser are Rayleigh scattering, an elastic process, and anti-Stokes Raman scattering.
Essentially, light scattering is the formation of a short-lived complex between a molecule and a photon, commonly termed the molecule’s virtual state. This state is unstable, with the photon immediately re-emitted as scattered light.
Raman spectroscopy measures the energy gap between the molecule’s vibrational levels. There are multiple vibrational modes in polyatomic molecules, each possessing its own “ladder” of vibrational levels.
The Raman scattered light’s wavelength depends on the excitation light’s wavelength. When different lasers are used, this wavelength is an impractical number for comparison, so the scatter position is converted into a Raman shift away from the excitation light’s wavelength.
The Benefits of Raman Spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy has numerous benefits as an analytical technique, including:
- It is a non-destructive and non-invasive
- Can easily differentiate chemical structures
- No sample preparation is needed
- Flexibility for controlling sample sizes
- Uses visible or near-visible light
- Is highly sensitive
- Raman spectroscopy can be combined with other analytical techniques, including scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy, making it an incredibly versatile analysis method for researchers
- Used in combination with complementary techniques, a complete understanding of a sample can be achieved.
- Accurately determines sample stress, making it a robust quality control tool.
Importance of Industrial Automation
Automation covers a wide array of technologies, processes and equipment, and reduces human intervention in industrial processes.
It utilizes innovative information technologies and specialized equipment. Robots and other technologies completely replace tasks historically performed by human operators.
This field is an essential part of modern industry, offering several advantages:
- Improves safety
- Reduces downtime
- Saves costs such as labor
- Allows workers to concentrate on more value-added operations
- Greater consistency and quality
- Improved flexibility, productivity, product traceability and data support
- Highly integrated operations
How is Raman Spectroscopy Used in Industrial Automation?
Raman spectroscopy offers powerful analytical capabilities for automated systems. Recent developments in optics, detectors and lasers have enhanced the speed and accuracy of real-time inline analysis for technicians and researchers.
Results can be gathered in seconds, compared to the prolonged periods needed using conventional methods.
Raman spectroscopy has moved out of the laboratory into manufacturing and industrial processes for quality analysis and improving operational safety. For instance, dangerous samples such as trikalkyl aluminium compounds can be handled safely.
Immersion Raman probes can be used in dangerous environments, such as the elevated temperature, pressure or toxic internal environment of industrial vessels. This eliminates the need for sample extraction and analysis in the lab, improving safety and reducing process downtime.
Samples can be analyzed efficiently due to the non-destructive nature of Raman spectroscopy and its high-throughput capabilities. This allows operators to determine damage and quality of materials and components in a fully automated process. Companies can easily overcome production hurdles using this method.
Easy to interpret, process-ready and reliable, solid-state Raman spectroscopy equipment is highly beneficial for automated processes.
Several new Raman spectroscopy techniques have been developed in recent years, improving the accuracy, quality and scope of process analysis.
Laser sampling and detection technologies have improved in recent decades, with consequent enhancements in sampling and analytical performance.
In industrial automation, Industry 4.0 technologies have increasingly been applied. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, Big Data and IoT play a role in modern automated industrial processes. These disruptive technologies effectively extract relevant process data from the increasingly substantial and complex datasets produced by Raman spectroscopic analysis methods in automated industrial processes.
Challenges of using Raman Spectroscopy in Industrial Automation
Despite the advantages of these techniques, several factors limit their applications in industrial automation. Overcoming these challenges is a focus of current research in industrial automation.
Despite advances in laser technology and detection hardware and analytical software, spectrometer development has not kept pace, making it a limiting factor in current research.
In automated, high-throughput and highly demanding industrial automation processes, vast datasets are generated. These require advanced, expensive data analysis techniques and complex software to manage.
Future Outlook of the Automation Industry
Automation has become an omnipresent element of numerous industries. In the wake of COVID-19, the industry has increased automation to enhance productivity, safety, cost and quality control.
With automation processes, hardware, and disruptive technologies such as AI, powerful analytical capabilities are becoming increasingly essential. Raman spectroscopy is one such analytical technique that has vast potential in industrial automation.
References and Further Reading
Edinburgh Instruments (2022) What is Raman Spectroscopy? [online] edinst.com. Available at: https://www.edinst.com/blog/what-is-raman-spectroscopy/
Berg, C (2021) The Complete Guide to Industrial Automation [online] clarify.io. Available at: https://www.clarify.io/learn/industrial-automation
Renishaw (2022) Why we use Raman spectroscopy [online] renishaw.com. Available at: https://www.renishaw.com/en/why-we-use-raman-spectroscopy--25803
Foster, M.J & Storey, J (2013) Raman Overcomes Challenges for Industry [online] photonics.com. Available at: https://www.photonics.com/Articles/Raman_Overcomes_Challenges_for_Industry/a54749
Ducker (2020) Industrial Automation Outlook [online] ducker.com. Available at: https://ducker.com/industrial-automation-outlook