The Role of Raman Spectroscopy in Gem Identification & How Evolving Technology Is Expanding Its Use and Availability

M. Bonner Denton, Robert Downs, Scott B. Tilden, University of Arizona, Departments of Geoscience and Chemistry, Elizabeth Yarbrough and Jim Pasmore, Rigaku Raman Technology

For many years innovators have dreamed of a handheld technology capable of providing high quality chemical analysis of an unknown object.  The television series "Star Trek" featured a fictional device for achieving this goal, the Tricorder.  Recent developments in miniature precision optical components, solid-state lasers, detector arrays and microcomputers have provided the technology necessary to develop a high performance instrument capable of providing many of the desired abilities of the Tricorder.  Instrumentation capable of identifying a wide variety of materials including gems and minerals will be described.  Performance considerations and design trade-offs will be discussed, including trade-offs for operating at a variety of different wavelengths.  Another important factor contributing to the power of the latest generation of instruments is both the incorporation of a large spectral data base coupled with powerful search engines that provide high quality search and match abilities.  Raman's capabilities and limitations for determining a gemstone's provenance and whether it is of natural or synthetic origin will be discussed. This presentation will discuss how these advances are being implemented in a new generation of handheld instruments and demonstrates some of these instruments' abilities.

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