The Raman effect which underlies Raman spectroscopy was discovered by Dr CV Raman in India in 1928, winning him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. It wasn’t until 1953, however, that the first commercial Raman spectrometer was available, due to the lack of a practical light source for the technique. Today, the powerful analytical technique of Raman spectrometry is widely used around the world in a wide range of fields. Its popularity is thanks to its many advantages, such as its non-destructive nature, minimal requirements for sample preparation, capability to analyze samples in situ or remotely, and insensitivity to water interference.
Here, we explore the current applications of Raman spectroscopy and look at how the field is developing. We evaluate the global market for this analytical tool and consider how it may change in the near future.
Application areas of Raman spectroscopy
There are many application areas of Raman spectroscopy that straddle a wide range of industries. The versatile use of Raman spectroscopy is in part thanks to its efficiency in collecting detailed information about the molecular structure and composition of a sample.
Application areas of Raman spectroscopy include chemical analysis. Here, it is used to identify and characterize organic molecules. It can be used to analyze both complex mixtures and unknown samples. The pharmaceutical industry also makes use of Raman spectroscopy for chemical analysis. Here, it is used for drug quality control, drug development, as well as monitoring the polymorphic changes of therapeutic compounds. Forensic science also relies on Raman spectroscopy for analyzing drugs and explosives as well as other forensic evidence.
Biomedical and life sciences also make great use of Raman spectroscopy. Here, it is used for biosensing - Raman spectroscopy is utilized for the label-free detection of biomolecules, making it a useful technique in diagnostics. Raman spectroscopy is also useful for cellular imaging, which is particularly useful for cancer research.
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Raman spectroscopy is also a commonly used tool in materials science. It is a vital technique for analyzing the structures of polymers and monitoring polymerization processes. Importantly, in the rapidly growing field of nanomaterials, Raman spectroscopy is used to help characterize nanoparticles and other nanomaterials.
Environmental science uses Raman spectroscopy in pollution monitoring, where the technique can be used to detect pollutants in air and water samples. It is also used to analyze microorganisms in environmental samples.
Raman spectroscopy has been used for many years by scientists working in geology and Earth sciences. Scientists in this field use the technology to identify and classify minerals in order to grow our understanding of mineralogy. In addition, Raman spectroscopy is also used to understand the compassion and history of rocks, gems, and minerals. Similarly, Raman spectroscopy is used in the analysis of organic material collected from celestial bodies, such as the moon and Mars.
The food and beverage industry also makes use of the analytical technique. Here, it is used in food safety processes as well as in wine and beer analysis, where it can be leveraged to characterize alcoholic products.
Finally, Raman spectroscopy has also found applications in art and cultural heritage conservation, where it is used to assist with art authentication as well as characterize the pigments used in paintings.
Hot Topics in Raman Spectroscopy
One of the most hotly researched topics in the Raman spectroscopy field is that of miniaturization. In recent years, research teams across the globe have worked to produce portable and handheld Raman spectrometers in order to advance the accessibility of the technology and open up a greater range of applications for Raman spectroscopy.
Some recent developments that have come out of work to miniaturize Raman spectroscopy include the nano-sized wearable Raman device from BaySpec. These devices have the benefit of portability, low power consumption, and Bluetooth connectivity to transmit data to mobile devices instantly.
Additionally, the incorporation of machine learning and deep learning techniques into Raman data analysis has become a keen area of research. Machine learning and deep learning have the ability to efficiently and reliably extract key information from spectral data, helping scientists instantly gain important insights from Raman data.
Current Global Market of Raman Spectroscopy
The current global market of Raman spectroscopy is estimated to be worth $0.8 billion and is predicted to reach a valuation of $1.1 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 7% from 2023 to 2028. This growth will be driven by the increased focus on drug development and the increased demand for effective and reliable tools for food safety analysis.
Asia Pacific is predicted to be the fastest-growing region over the forecast period. This rapid growth can be attributed to the expanding healthcare sectors in numerous countries in this region. Growth can also be attributed to improving healthcare infrastructure, urbanization, and increased government support for healthcare.
Current key market players in this space include Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (US), Oxford Instruments (UK), Bruker (US), HORIBA Ltd (Japan), Mettler Toledo (Switzerland), Anton Paar GmbH (Austria), Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. (Japan), PerkinEmer Inc. (US), Renishaw Plc (UK), Agilent Technologies Inc (US), Rigaku Corporation (Japan), Metrohm AG (Switzerland), and Endress+Hauser Group Services AG (Switzerland).
Future Directions of Raman spectroscopy
Over the next decade, we will likely see a continued push for high-quality Raman spectrometers - this will likely come in the form of miniature, compact, portable devices. Environmental monitoring and pharmaceutical applications stand to benefit most from advances in the miniaturization of this technology.
The field of Raman spectroscopy will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. Thanks to the interest in using Raman spectroscopy in a wide number of applications, plus the opportunity posed by work to integrate machine learning and achieve miniaturization and portability of the technology, Raman spectroscopy has a bright future. By the end of the decade, it is likely that new applications of Raman spectroscopy will have emerged thanks to continued advancements.
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References and Further Reading
History of Raman spectroscopy [online]. Nano Photon. Available at: https://www.nanophoton.net/lecture-room/raman-spectroscopy/lesson-1-4 (Accessed September 2023)
Qi, Y. et al. (2023) ‘Recent progresses in Machine Learning assisted Raman spectroscopy’, Advanced Optical Materials, 11(14). doi:10.1002/adom.202203104.
Raman spectroscopy market by type [online]. Markets and Markets. Available at: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/raman-spectroscopy-market-23875879.html (Accessed September 2023)