How AFM-Raman Systems Are Important to Forensic Science

Published On October 19, 2018 | By Carolyn Guertin | Featured

Many people are fascinated by forensics. Even if people cannot incorporate something so specific and so niche into their daily lives, the interest in the field shows throughout the popularity of varying crime and forensic shows. Behind the drama, have you ever wondered about the technology which is behind the act of surveying a crime scene? It’s just as fascinating.

Like most sciences, forensic science is a field that never really says “This is good enough, there is no reason to look into this further.” That’s the beauty of science, really. So many advancements are made with the fact that we are still learning so much about the world all around us, and it is a fast-paced, extremely technical, and very fascinating industry of which to be in.

Forensic science has a lot to owe to Raman Spectroscopy, which is a form of analysis of chemicals utilising AFM-Raman Systems such as those produced by industry-leading companies, and produced by specialist providers such as Scanwel.

This form of analysis- although the name sounds quite beguiling- provides very detailed information on the molecular structure of chemicals by the way that the molecular structure interacts with varying forms of light which is shone upon it.

In a nutshell, by measuring the way that light refracts off said chemicals, a lot about the molecular structure (and therefore, what the chemical is, as well as other markers) can be established – which is a very basic way of detailing the main principle behind forensic science and just how it works.

You may think of someone shining a UV light upon a surface, and then dusting it using a special compound in order to pick up fingerprints. The compound reacts with certain markers on human skin, and a fingerprint is easy to pick up by the way of which the mixed substances react together when a UV Light is applied.

How is light used to determine what a chemical is?

Raman Spectroscopy is a process which involves shining a high-powered laser at a chemical, and observing the refraction of light at a molecular level. A very small amount of light is scattered, and the wavelengths of this light vary according to the molecular structure of what exactly is being identified.

The light refraction patterns themselves are used as identifiers.  As you can imagine, this is very intricate, complex and fine work indeed, and complex raman systems have been invented and developed to allow for accurate raman spectroscopy which allows light to be viewed and measured at a microscopic scale.

How is light considered an identifier of what something is?

Raman spectroscopy is the process of identifying a chemical structure using light refractions, but that’s not all that can be discovered. Raman spectroscopy can provide other things such as the phase of the chemical, the stress and the strain put on the molecules, as well as any contamination or impurity. You might wonder just how all of these readings might actually translate to any particular chemical. This is because spectral “libraries” exist, which are searched to find a match.

What Else Can Ramen Spectroscopy Show?

More visual approaches to results can be shown with raman spectroscopy, such as imaging. A spectral image, as the name might suggest, marks each and every known compound with a differing colour and can be used to determine distribution of individual chemical components which make up a whole – which is useful for a range of different purposes, chiefly forensics and the pharmaceutical industry.

More Information on AFM-Raman Spectroscopy can be found on the Industrial Science Blogger.

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