Raman microscopes

Impact summary

Researchers at Leeds undertook key aspects in the research, design, development and application of Raman microscopes.

Our partnership with Renishaw plc (Spectroscopy division) led to the development of a new generation of imaging Raman microscope, with performance improved by an order of magnitude.

This instrument not only offers dramatically faster performance, meaning spectra could be acquired in seconds rather than tens of minutes, but requires much less laboratory space and maintenance, and offers a wider range of performance compared to other systems on the market.

Consequently, the Renishaw system has been the world’s best-selling Raman microscope 2008-12.

Wide impact has been generated from the economic benefits of the emergence of the Raman microscope products, from their application within the customer base in terms of improved imaging performance and from the fact that these instruments have since found new applications in a wide range of fields from space research to forensic science.

Underpinning research

The underpinning research at Leeds led directly to a range of commercial Raman technology for Renishaw plc, clearly incorporating the innovations made in the School of Physics and Astronomy. This technology is now widely used in many applications, some of which also link directly back to the work of the School on explosives detection and drug identification.

Current Raman technology applications include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Carbon and diamond for quality control
  • Materials science
  • Geosciences and Gemology: Classification and valuation of gemstones
  • Forensic science - identifying without contamination very small samples of substances such as gunshot residue
  • Nanotechnology - the characterisation of nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes
  • Art and heritage - Identifying pigments and authenticate works of art.