Industry News

Raman 101

Raman spectroscopy, the technique used in MFL-3000 is a well-established method for determining the chemical composition and structure of pharmaceutical products. Raman does this by using chemical “fingerprints” to identify particular molecules.


Raman spectrometer has two parts: a laser and a spectrometer. A laser beam shines on the sample and causes the material of the sample to scatter the laser light. While there are several forms of scattering, Raman scattering is considered here as a method to identify a drug substance. In Raman scattering an incoming light exchanges energy with the vibration or rotation modes of a molecule and thus is scattered at a new energy which may be sensed as a different wavelength (color). These shifted wavelengths are measured by a spectrometer and the resulting Raman spectra is plotted on X-Y graph with X-axis representing Raman shift and Y-axis representing the intensity at each wavelength. An example Raman spectra of typical narcotics drugs is shown below.



Given that distinct drugs exhibit unique spectra, this technique can be used for unknown drug identification. To determine the identity of an unknown chemical, first reference fingerprints of a list of suspect materials are created. Next the spectral fingerprint of the unknown sample is measured and the sample spectrum is compared to all the reference spectra. If the sample spectrum matches one of the reference spectra then the material in the sample is identified. MFL-3000 automates this process of drug identification and makes it an easy to use tool for law enforcement to identify narcotics, pre-cursors and prescription drugs in the field.