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Raman Spectroscopes
  
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Tom Mazanec




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PostPosted: Mar 09, 2021 13:47    Post subject: Raman Spectroscopes  

My 2016 Gem Identification Made Easy (2016) on page 34 says

While it lacks portability and is not yet an affordable instrument (currently selling at approximately $12,000) for most of the readers of this book, these sophisticated instruments have dropped significantly in price and may become much more affordable in the future.

The description it then gives sounds like a rockhound's dream.
Since we are now half a decade in the future, has the price dropped any? Do any of you use one?
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Mar 09, 2021 14:05    Post subject: Re: Raman Spectroscopes  

I know a couple collectors in Europe who use Raman spectroscopes, but they built their own from various off-the-shelf parts. They tell me you can put one together for anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on how diligently you hunt for parts, whether you have a single laser frequency or two, and so on. (With only a single laser color there will be some minerals that won't work.) Sounded like a lot of hard work, even for someone with a good technical background, and not something I would attempt myself. But if you have the skills and the patience, go for it!
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Tom Mazanec




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PostPosted: Mar 09, 2021 16:29    Post subject: Re: Raman Spectroscopes  

Most of the online ads say "Contact us for price", but I saw a used one for $6500.
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Mar 09, 2021 21:01    Post subject: Re: Raman Spectroscopes  

Many such types of large expensive “lab equipment” have been getting smaller and cheaper in recent years and while most people think these along the lines of any household appliance (ie simple and easy for everyday people to use and understand), they still often require specialised knowledge and skills to prepare items to be tested. You can not expect a 50% price drop in the past 5yrs to mean in another 5 these things will be under $100 and fit in your pocket or whatever. The core of many such similar devices is some sort of energy emitter and detector which have to be made to high precision and calibrated in order to produce results that can mean anything. Its not as simple as cheaper faster mass production. Many require dangerous levels of electricty in order to function still and others produce dangerous radiation.

The creation of the arduino and raspberry pi platforms have allowed many to investigate new and alternative methods of creating detectors and analysis equipment By repurposing existing poor quality sensors or taking components from old “junk” equipment. I’ve seen a number of xrf and other DIY spectrometers being worked on to try to come up with budget devices. Calibration is always the issue though. You require references to calibrate off. The more references you have the more accurate you can fine tune your device. Capturing light spectra is easy but cameras are not so great at the fine resolution required to capture the fine absorption lines. You typically require a registration and integration process or just settle for the few larger element absorption bands to “guess” at a reference spectra it matches.

Making these devices sounds simple but getting meaningful data from them is very difficult. Even knocking up a simple temperature/humidity measurer with arduino is dead easy and the values seem right until you blow hot or cold air onto the sensor and find it doesn’t change. You need to understand how the sensor you use works in order to read from it, at what rate and how can you accurately detect a true reading from noise glitch in the electronics. Once you start you quickly find unforeseen hurdles that need to be overcome and a lot of research goes into moving past those hurdled. In the case of laboratory XRF, spectrometers and electron microscopes finding people with the knowledge to help you get over a hurdle in a diy project is almost impossible but there are people out there working on bringing these bulky expensive devices to a more affordable level. Maybe not for you or I but for underfunded labs and field labs to make use of. The HackADay website has many ambitious DIY projects along these lines and maybe your knowledge can help someone’s project?
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Mar 10, 2021 01:06    Post subject: Re: Raman Spectroscopes  

I do editing of scientific papers before they are sent to journals. I just recently edited one that reviewed the properties of all portable Raman Spectroscopes. There are many that are hand-held! A few just a bit larger, but still portable. He did not list prices in his paper and I am not allowed to reveal the detailed contents of the paper until it is published. However, I can assure you in recent years there are MANY quite small instruments that work for geological/mineralogical work [which was his focus]. Prices I don't know about. I'd suggest just putting hand-held [or portable] Raman spectroscope into a search engine and see what is on offer...... you might even find a used and working one for sale. Many who work with them trade-up when the newer, better models come out.
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Tom Mazanec




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PostPosted: Mar 10, 2021 18:18    Post subject: Re: Raman Spectroscopes  

Another promising technology mentioned on page 274 is infrared spectroscopy. Any of you use that?
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