Chemical imaging of complex multi-component materials has important potential for the analyst in many fields of research. Raman imaging is of particular interest for several reasons. The Raman spectra contain detailed information on chemical species and crystalline phase. Because the Raman effect is excited by optical radiation, the spatial resolution, which is proportional to the wavelength of the light, is better than 1 μm. and with near field optical techniques currently under development, there is potential for even higher spatial resolution in the chemical image.
The methods used to produce an image fall into essentially two categories - global imaging and confocal mapping. When creating global images, a large area of the sample is bathed in laser light. The light scattered by the sample is filtered to select a Raman band, and then that light is used to create an image of the sample on a two-dimensional detector.