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Advances in fiber optic probe design are moving Raman spectroscopy into the clinic, although there remain important practical problems. While much effort has been devoted to minimizing Raman and fluorescence background from fibers, less attention has been given to the need to generate reference Raman signals that can correct for variations in tissue albedo, which is important in quantifying changes in tissue composition. To address this shortcoming, we have developed a fiber optic probe that incorporates a fluorinated ethylene-propylene copolymer (FEP) cap at the end of each excitation fiber. Transmission of laser light through the transparent cap generates a 732 cm−1 Raman band whose intensity scales linearly with the laser power delivered to the tissue of interest. In our first design, the FEP cap functions as a waveguide with only a small insertion loss (∼5%). Laser transmission through 1 mm of the polymer is sufficient to generate a usable reference Raman signal. We show the application of the probe to quantitative non-invasive Raman spectroscopy of animal tissues using rat leg phantoms as models. Ex-vivo Raman spectroscopy of excised rat tibia supports the use of the probe for spectroscopy of various tissues. These results provide proof of principle that the Raman probe can be used in multiple spectroscopic applications.
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