Challenges in application of Raman spectroscopy to biology and materials
Raman spectroscopy has become an essential tool for chemists, physicists, biologists and materials scientists. In this article, we present the challenges in unravelling the molecule-specific Raman spectral signatures of different biomolecules like proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates based on the review of our work and the current trends in these areas. We also show how Raman spectroscopy can be used to probe the secondary and tertiary structural changes occurring during thermal denaturation of protein and lysozyme as well as more complex biological systems like bacteria. Complex biological systems like tissues, cells, blood serum etc. are also made up of such biomolecules. Using mice liver and blood serum, it is shown that different tissues yield their unique signature Raman spectra, owing to a difference in the relative composition of the biomolecules. Additionally, recent progress in Raman spectroscopy for diagnosing a multitude of diseases ranging from cancer to infection is also presented. The second part of this article focuses on applications of Raman spectroscopy to materials. As a first example, Raman spectroscopy of a melt cast explosives formulation was carried out to monitor the changes in the peaks which indicates the potential of this technique for remote process monitoring. The second example presents various modern methods of Raman spectroscopy such as spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS), reflection, transmission and universal multiple angle Raman spectroscopy (UMARS) to study layered materials. Studies on chemicals/layered materials hidden in non-metallic containers using the above variants are presented. Using suitable examples, it is shown how a specific excitation or collection geometry can yield different information about the location of materials. Additionally, it is shown that UMARS imaging can also be used as an effective tool to obtain layer specific information of materials located at depths beyond a few centimeters.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Chemical Frontiers Goa