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Inside Raman symposium 2016

A report by Jezz Leckenby of Talking Science Limited

Renishaw's global seminar series came to the new Renishaw Innovation Centre at New Mills, the corporate headquarters in Gloucestershire for its 2016 UK gathering.

It featured presentations from prominent scientists on their research applying Raman spectroscopy to a broad spectrum of challenges from the life sciences to the newest 2D materials such as graphene and molybdenum disulphide. Over fifty delegates listened to the presentations which were complemented with a poster session and demonstrations of Renishaw's latest inVia™ Qontor® confocal Raman microscope. The Renishaw Innovation Centre provided a convenient venue for the audience, located close to the M5 in the beautiful Cotswold countryside. It was a perfect setting for networking and to inspect Renishaw's impressive new facilities including the state of the art demonstration rooms containing the very latest in Raman technology. Visitors were also able to see technologies from other Renishaw product lines, such as 3D printing, neurological robotics and spatial laser measurement. It was a packed day enjoyed by all.

The talks demonstrated the practical applications where Raman is being used to help solve analytical challenges. The opening talk from Professor Steve Evans of the University of Leeds was an ideal introduction as he showed examples from the last twenty years from the early work with Professor David Batchelder, one of the developers of commercial Raman microscopy, on liquid crystals through to the latest work on lipid membranes and cell phenotyping. Using gold nanoparticles, Evans showed how he could track single molecules and proteins using Raman. He illustrated this with data showing how gold nanotubes injected into a mouse could be tracked to aid the development of new therapies. His latest work involves many disciplines and co-workers as Raman is applied to track the development of cancers. Following shifts or intensity changes in the Raman signal shows the power of the technique for multiple materials applications.

  • Inside_Raman_2016

    Image taken at Inside Raman 2016 seminar, held at the Renishaw Innovation Centre

This contrasted to the talk of Dr Aiofe Gowen from University College Dublin. She showed a mathematical approach to handling Raman data to enable chemical and correlative imaging which enhanced the data through a technique she has named chemical imaging (CI) fusion. Using PCA – Principle Component Analysis, she showed how it was possible to make predictions when correlating IR wave number shifts to those observed in Raman to reveal more detail in images.

The University of Edinburgh's Dr Colin Campbell gave an enthusiastic talk about how he has used SERS to follow behaviour in tissues and cells. Using nanosensors technology, Raman has proved ideal to study 2D and 3D materials to track changes in pH and redox potential. With oxygen vital to the life of a cell, tracking changes in the oxidative nature of its environment enables a better understanding of the cell's life-death cycle. The results from this approach have enabled Campbell to show the effects of different treatments to cancerous cells, for example to help answer the question as to why/how radiotherapy kill cells.

The morning session was brought to a close by Renishaw applications scientist, Dr Tim Batten. He presented compelling data from the new inVia Qontor, which is Renishaw's most advanced Raman microscope to date. It uses a new innovation called LIveTrack™  which enables users to analyse samples with uneven, curved or rough surfaces as focus is maintained at all times. This even makes it possible to track dynamic processes. This was well illustrated by the example following the melt and crystallisation process of a polymer pellet.

After a review of the posters presented by some of the young attending scientists, the audience returned to a revealing talk on catalysis. Dr Ceri Hammond from the University of Cardiff told the audience that catalysts provide enabling technology to over 90% of the world's production processes. His work focuses on zeolite materials where he uses Raman spectroscopy to track processes in situ. His motivations relate to the energy saving and environmental improving possibilities of synthetic zeolite catalysts. While currently investigating activation sites with Raman, Hammond's goal is to perform kinetic experiments to help the design of new reactors and processes.

  • Inside_Raman_2016

    Image taken at Inside Raman 2016 seminar, held at the Renishaw Innovation Centre

The first talk on 2D materials came from Professor Bob Young of the University of Manchester. His group has demonstrated, through the use of Raman spectroscopy, that it is possible to attain significant reinforcement of a polymer by a graphene monolayer consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms. Moreover they have shown that this reinforcement can be modelled using conventional continuum mechanics. Raman is very much the characterisation tool of choice for scientists working with graphene with six Renishaw inVia systems in use at the Graphene Centre in Manchester. His talk gave a comprehensive overview of performance properties and pointed the way ahead to how molybdenum disulphide and niobium selenide may be used in the manufacture of FETs and photovoltaics in the future. Young also showed an example of “CSI forensics” where he used Raman to identify graphene in a tennis racquet.

Dr Duhee Yoon from the University of Cambridge continued on the theme of 2D materials. He presented a wealth of Raman data to show various band shifts and how these could be correlated to the number of layers of sheets of graphene and molybdenum disulphide. He showed this under different physical constraints including the effects of doping levels, choice of substrate along with the influence of strain and temperature to performance of the materials. 

The final talk from Dr Mircea Modreanu of University College Cork took the audience full circle back to why Raman spectroscopy is such a powerful tool in nanomaterials research. His work in the field of microelectronics and optics has led him to discover the versatility of Raman spectroscopy. He showed the different properties of thin films to bulk materials with a variety of modified graphene structures. His key message was one looking forward where he sees Raman for a wide range of applications for the materials scientist: thin film dielectrics and semiconductors; following crystallisation and identifying polymorphs; and performing stress/strain analyses. In parallel, these will require new instrument developments such as using multi laser spectrometers with fast, large area scanning.

The day ended with the award of a prize for the best poster of the day. Renishaw's UK Sales Manager, Martin Davies, presented the award to a student from Dr Fred Festy's group at King's College London. Miss Arunthathi Manickavasagam's work applied Raman in the diagnosis of oral cancer. The poster showed how she built a “mosaic” of Raman data to characterise large areas of tissue.

  • Inside_Raman_2016

    Image taken at Inside Raman 2016 seminar, held at the Renishaw Innovation Centre

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  • Inside Raman UK symposium 2016 Inside Raman UK symposium 2016

    Inside Raman was held recently at the Renishaw Innovation Centre, in Gloucestershire. Featuring presentations from prominent scientists on their research involving Raman spectroscopy, it was a fantastic learning and networking opportunity for delegates.