Martin Davies, UK Sales Manager at Renishaw's Spectroscopy Division, talks to AZoM about Inside Raman and the developments in Raman spectroscopy.
Could you give a brief overview of ‘Inside Raman’ and how Renishaw is involved?
Inside Raman is an event organised and run by Renishaw. It was initiated in 2010 as a platform for Scientists involved in Raman spectroscopy to share their research, as well as exchange ideas, and discuss cutting edge measurements being made with our Raman systems. The meeting lasts two days and involves presentations, primarily by users of our instruments, demonstrations of new developments in our technology, and—most importantly—an opportunity for researchers from a wide variety of fields to get together and talk.
Why is it important to have a seminar dedicated to Raman techniques?
Raman spectroscopy continues to gain acceptance as a technique in new and varied applications. Year on year we see new ideas and research being presented where Raman spectroscopy is the technique of choice.
There is also significant advancement in well established research areas where improvements in the technology are allowing our customers to probe deeper, faster and with higher resolution than before. While there is a huge amount of interdisciplinary work going on, bringing users from different Institutes and research areas together stimulates discussion and ideas that might otherwise be overlooked.
How is Raman spectroscopy typically utilised in medical and pharmaceutical industries? How was this demonstrated at the event?
Pharmaceutical companies adopted Raman analysis as a technique a long time ago. Whether it is for quality control of raw materials, checking for counterfeit drugs, determining the distribution of components or looking for contaminants, it is a quick, easy, non-destructive method of investigation.
Raman analysis has the unique ability to probe the chemical structure of a sample, so it can help the development of effective formulations of tablets. Raman imaging can reveal the distribution and concentration of active ingredients and excipients. We were proud to show our StreamLineHR˜ Rapide fast mapping and the massive datafile capability of our new software. With these two advances researchers can rapidly generate high-definition information-rich Raman images of their tablets and medical samples.
The benefits of Raman spectroscopy in Medicine are really coming to the fore with an ever increasing number of Raman scientists becoming involved in areas ranging from dentistry, orthopaedics, cancer research, cell biology and genetics. The use of Raman in pathology is also an exciting area bringing significant advantages over current techniques.
At least 40% of the presentations at Inside Raman 2014 were directly or indirectly related to medical and biomedical applications. Some exciting work that was presented on Raman as a diagnostic tool in the detection of colorectal cancer has come about through a collaboration between Renishaw and researchers at University College London (UCL). Talks such as this, show the engagement that Renishaw has with our customers and research groups worldwide.
How can Raman spectroscopy be used to investigate 2D materials? Was it beneficial to host Inside Raman in Manchester, the ‘home of graphene’?
Raman spectroscopy is the technique of choice for graphene and other 2D material studies. A highly sensitive, research-grade Raman system with high spatial resolution—like an inVia—is needed for these nanomaterials.
Manchester had many advantages for holding an event such as this. The fact that Manchester is the home of graphene, and Renishaw have so many customers close by, was hugely beneficial. It’s just a shame that United were playing Bayern Munich away otherwise that would have given us a great social event to take our delegates to!
What further application areas were covered at Inside Raman?
The variety of topics is what makes Inside Raman unique. We had talks on tribology, lithium battery technology, photovoltaics, and a talk by the NPL on establishing Raman standards. These were in addition to the pharma, biomedical and biological talks. In addition, discussions over coffee and meals covered even more.
Could you give some examples of the recent Renishaw innovations that were displayed at Inside Raman?
Renishaw prides itself on the upgradeability of its instrumentation. Their unique flexibility enables in-field upgrades, so systems can grow as we provide product improvements or the customer’s needs change.
Renishaw’s latest innovations are the WiRE 4 software package which allows massive datasets to be collected and analysed—critical for today’s large area high resolution mapping requirements— and StreamlineHR Rapide which massively increases the speed at which mapping can be achieved.
Could you give an overview of the WiRE 4 software, and the added benefits this offers over and above previous versions?
Renishaw’s Windows-based Raman Environment (WiRE) software is dedicated to Raman spectroscopy and is the power behind Renishaw’s Raman spectrometers. WiRE gives users the ability to acquire, analyse, and display high quality Raman data. The latest version, WiRE 4, includes new features which focus on the fast generation of confocal chemical images.
We have developed a new file format (WDF) and optimised the software to handle very large Raman datasets (over 50 million spectra). So users can collect and analyse massive mapping files to produce megapixel-sized images. WiRE 4 also adds support for Renishaw’s StreamLIneHR Rapide high resolution Raman imaging.
How does the new StreamLineHR Rapide help to optimise experiments involving Raman?
StreamLineHR Rapide is unbelievably fast. You can collect spectra at over 1000 spectra per second, so, for example, you can image some graphene flakes in a minute or so, and determine whether they are monolayer or multilayer. This used to take hours and now you can get highly detailed images before you’ve even made a cup of coffee!
In your opinion, what does the future hold for Raman imaging in general?
Fast high-definition imaging is here now. Rapid three-dimensional imaging, especially of biological samples, is really taking off. The ability to view the internal chemical structure of cells is so powerful it is going to revolutionise how biologists view cells.
There are so many cutting edge measurements being made using Raman analysis, researchers will continue to make discoveries that will impact all areas of our lives for years to come.
About Martin Davies
Martin Davies has over 30 years experience in the scientific instrumentation sector both in the UK and internationally.
He started his career with Oxford Instruments, working both in the UK and USA in a variety of roles, including Service Engineer, International Sales and the Sales Manager for the Western states.
Martin went on to become Head of Sales with attocube systems AG in Munich and joined Renishaw’s Spectroscopy Division two years ago as the UK Sales Manager.
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