Raman spectrography uses the Raman scattering of photons from a laser or other coherent light beam to measure the vibrational state of molecules. In chemistry, this is useful for identifying molecules and studying chemical bonds. Don’t have a Raman spectroscope? Cheer up! Open Raman will give you the means to build one.
The “starter edition” replaces the initial breadboard version which used Lego construction, although the plans for that are still on the site, as well. [Luc] is planning a performance edition, soon, that will have better performance and, presumably, a greater cost.
Looking at the bill of materials, it looks like it would well over $2,000 to build, with the bulk of the cost being for the optical parts of the device. That doesn’t include the cuvette which holds the sample will set you back another $250 or so. We aren’t sure how much the performance version will cost to build, but even double that wouldn’t be out of the budget of a well-funded college lab.
Typically, these are expensive because Raman scattering is a very subtle effect. Detecting it is no mean feat. It looks like the project thinks schools will be interested in a low-cost Raman spectrometer, and they are actively seeking academic partners.
You might think this kind of instrument is exotic, but it isn’t the first one we’ve seen. It isn’t even the second one. If you want to learn more about what people do with Raman spectroscopy, you might enjoy the video from BW Tech, below.