"Raman spectroscopy enables rapid and inexpensive exploration of biology"

Some fun results of an internal hackathon at Arcadia, "Raman spectroscopy enables rapid and inexpensive exploration of biology",

Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive technique that provides a unique chemical fingerprint based only on the interaction of light with a sample. It’s been used extensively in materials science applications and more recently, in biology. This technique doesn’t require molecular or chemical labeling (it’s “label-free”), making it a potentially useful tool for studying organisms without genetic tools.

We wondered if we could build a Raman spectrometer using open-source protocols and use it to rapidly distinguish samples based on chemical properties in a label-free way, with minimal data processing. We decided to try a hackathon to test this idea — we selected three types of samples (beer, chilis, and algae) and found that the spectra were reproducible and had sufficient dynamic range to do comparative analyses. We were able to use the Raman spectra to differentiate the three types of samples and to distinguish subgroups of samples within a given type. Beer sample spectra varied by alcohol content and by type. Chili pepper data clustered by perceived heat (Scoville units) and color. We could differentiate algae by genetic background. Finally, we found that specific spectral regions correlate with quantitative characteristics of beer (alcohol by volume) and chilis (perceived heat).

Link to the Open Source hardware.

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I’ve been interested in this technique for a while, would love to see more hackathons around these and similar devices


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It’s going to become a standard IMO, learn as much as you can about it

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Did anyone used this system or tried?