A UTAS research team recently won an ARC LIEF grant for the purchase of a new generation fast mapping Raman system. The instrument has now been commissioned and is the first of its kind in Tasmania. It is located in the Vibrational Spectroscopy facility of the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) and it is available to all University researchers as well as local government agencies and industry.
Raman spectroscopy is a technique that gives the user chemical information of a sample by exposing it to light from laser sources. This information can be used to identify unknown materials or to confirm the presence of certain substances within a sample.
While Raman spectrometers have been around for a few decades now, this new state of the art instrument enables users to perform very fast and detailed chemical mapping of their samples. This means researchers can now take a ‘chemical photograph’ of their sample with a spatial resolution of under 1 micrometre (a tenth of a hair width). It also can provide real three dimensional images as Raman is a confocal technique.
The applications are numerous and wide ranging. For example medicinal and pharmaceutical researchers will use Raman mapping to study the changes of nerve and brain cells due to pathological changes of Alzheimer’s disease. Geological researchers will use the rapid mapping feature to identify minerals and use the 3D imaging for very small melt and fluid inclusion in volcanic rock. Raman spectroscopy will also be used by chemist to better understand catalytic processes and to provide information of in-house produced materials such as lab-on-a-chip and nanodiamonds.
“The new fast Raman mapping instrument is complementary to some existing analytical instruments at UTAS, such as Infrared Spectroscopy (CSL), Scanning Electron Microscopy (CSL) and the visual confocal microscope (CSL/Menzies)” says Dr Thomas Rodemann, Research Fellow of the Vibrational Spectroscopy facility. “The great news is that our new instrument has been purpose built for our needs and comes with lots of optional extras such as 4 different laser excitation lines, an external fibre optic probe for the analysis of larger samples and a heating & freezing cell to analyse samples at variable temperatures.”