Using Raman optical technology, scientists at the University of Twente in The Netherlands can now produce images of brain tissue that is affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The images include the surrounding areas that are already showing changes.Raman spectroscopy is named after Indian physicist Sir C.V. Raman. It’s a spectroscopic technique used to observe vibrational, rotational, and other low-frequency modes in a system. Raman spectroscopy is commonly used in chemistry to provide a structural fingerprint by which molecules can be identified.
It relies on inelastic scattering, or Raman scattering, of monochromatic light, usually from a laser. The laser interacts with molecular vibrations, phonons or other excitations in the system which results in the energy of the laser photons being shifted up or down. The shift in energy gives information about the vibrational modes in the system.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with areas of high protein concentration in brain tissue. Raman imaging is now being used to get sharp images of the affected areas. The technique is quite attractive, because it shows more than the specific proteins involved. The presence of water and lipids, influenced by protein presence, can also be detected. Using Raman optical technology, the researchers were able to study donated brain tissue.
The affected area can be shown in a sharp, clear way. Even an area that appears to be in transition between healthy and affected tissue can be identified. This can help physician’s see how the disease is spreading in the brain. Even in a healthy person, a small area can be detected with protein activity. This can be the first sign of neurodegenerative disease.
Raman optical technology uses a laser beam for the detection of chemical substances. As a result, a major advantage is that the chemicals don’t need a pre-treatment. For chemical analysis, Raman has proven to be a powerful technique.
Compared to MRI, PET and CT imaging, Raman is able to detect areas, smaller than cells, with very high precision. The images produced show protein activity at neural cell level, but the sensitivity is high enough for detecting areas that are even smaller. This makes the technique very useful when it comes to medical imaging.
The choice of lasers and optical components, such as lenses, is extremely critical to the proper operation of the Raman spectrometer. Universe Optics is on the cutting edge of precision lens design. When working with our designers and manufacturers, you can be assured that you will receive a lens that will deliver the clearest image possible. When choosing your optical components from us, your Raman spectrometer will run reliably, and lower the cost of ownership over the lifetime of the instrument.
Because Raman spectrometers are used in a wide variety of applications, data specificity, short measurement times and instrument uptime is very important. Increasingly, Raman spectrometers are coupled with other high-end analytical techniques to create very sophisticated 3D imaging systems such as Raman-Optical Coherence Tomography and Raman-Scanning Tunneling Microscopy. In addition, there is significant research and development activity around the use of Raman spectrometers in other biomedical applications.