Raman Spectroscopy

Is Raman Spectroscopy Better Than FTIR?

Two popular spectroscopy techniques for examining the molecular structure of materials are Raman Spectroscopy and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). These methods are risk-free and give valuable insight into the chemical composition and structural characteristics of substances without causing adverse effects on them.

Raman Spectroscopy is based on the Raman effect, which occurs when light interacts with a material and scatters off its molecules. The scattered light undergoes a shift in frequency, either to higher or lower energy, called the Raman shift.

On the other hand, FTIR is a technique that harnesses the power of the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is based on the principle that molecules absorb infrared radiation at specific frequencies related to their vibrational modes.

Both of these spectroscopies are useful methods for determining the molecular makeup of materials, but they each have unique advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the specific application in question and the needs of the analysis, one may or may not be “better” than the other.


Raman and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy are effective analytical methods with numerous applications in a variety of scientific disciplines. Some of the applications of Raman and FTIR spectroscopy include:

1. Drug Discovery and Organic Synthesis

In pharmaceutical research, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy are used to study drug chemicals, examine their chemical structures, and track procedures during organic synthesis. These methods can be used to find functional groups and pollutants and improve synthetic pathways.

2. Catalyst Development and Catalytic Reaction Monitoring

Raman and FTIR spectroscopy are used in catalyst development to study catalyst-reactant interactions, identify active sites, monitor reactions in real time, and optimize catalyst design and reaction efficiency.

These techniques provide insights into catalyst structure, ligand-metal bonding, and reaction variables and can be applied in situ under actual operating conditions, including homogeneous catalytic reactions in flow.

3. Environmental Analysis

They are used to study the environment, including locating and measuring contaminants, keeping track of air and water quality, and examining soil and sediment samples. These methods can help with environmental monitoring, evaluation, and remediation activities by offering useful information on the chemical makeup and structure of environmental materials.

4. Crystallization

This research process involves polymorphism, growth, and nucleation. These methods may provide details about crystal structures, determine crystal types, and keep track of shifts in phase. These are important to understanding and enhancing crystallization processes in various sectors, such as materials, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

5. Forensic Science

In forensic science, both spectroscopies are used to examine remains of evidence such as fibers, pigments, and narcotics. These methods are able to assist with forensic analysis and criminal investigations by providing important details on forensic materials’ chemical makeup and origin.

6. Material Science and Nanotechnology

Materials science uses them to investigate materials’ substance, structure, and characteristics. They offer information about the chemical and physical properties of materials such as metals, ceramics, semiconductors, composites, and coatings and can be utilized for studying those materials.

Types Of Energy Measured

When monochromatic light (laser) photons come into contact with molecules, an energy event develops inelastic photons, which causes the weak Raman effect (commonly referred to as one in ten million events).

A more powerful method that relies on the absorption of light by molecules at frequencies related to their basic vibrations is referred to as Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy.

Strong peaks are seen in the FTIR for molecules with functional groups that have strong dipoles. In contrast, strong peaks are shown in the Raman for molecules with functional groups that have weak dipoles and easily change polarizability.

Advantages And Limitations

Raman Spectroscopy employs a laser within the visible/near-infrared (NIR) range, along with flexible silica fiber optic cables, to transmit energy, stimulate molecules, and gather scattered radiation. Measurements can be taken by inserting an immersion probe into a reactor, using a non-contact probe through a quartz or silica window, or in a flow cell for flow chemistry.

This technique provides information about molecular structure, chemical composition, and crystallography in a non-destructive manner, without requiring sample preparation. Raman spectroscopy is applicable to solids, liquids, and gasses, and offers detailed insights into molecular bonds and functional groups.

When exposed to near-infrared (NIR) and/or visible laser frequencies, multiple substances that exhibit Raman scattering may also show fluorescence. Since fluorescence frequently generates a signal considerably greater than Raman scattering and frequently goes under in the Raman signal, its presence may present specific challenges for Raman spectroscopy.

Raman Spectroscopy is a non-destructive technique that can be used on various sample types, including film, solution, solid, and gel. This does not require sample preparation prior to measurement and gives highly accurate chemical information.

On the other hand, FTIR spectroscopy finds the infrared light absorption by vibrations of molecules, revealing details about a sample’s molecular makeup. Chemical analysis and material characterization are two more common uses of FTIR.

This is frequently employed for identifying organic compounds, examining polymers, and researching chemical reactions since it is sensitive to various functional groups. This spectroscopy is also appropriate for high-throughput and trace analysis since it may identify small quantities of the chemicals in a sample.

FTIR has limitations such as low spatial resolution, sample preparation requirements, challenges in quantitative analysis, potential interference from water and CO2, spectral overlap, and cost/complexity of instrumentation. Accurate results with FTIR require proper sample preparation, calibration, and data processing.


The specific requirements of the analysis will determine whether Raman spectroscopy or FTIR is “better.” When a minimum sample preparation is required, and knowledge of chemical interaction and crystallization is essential, Raman spectroscopy is useful.

FTIR spectroscopy is useful when researching certain functional groups and examining organic molecules. The decision should be based on the specific requirements of the study and the type of material being studied because both procedures have advantages and disadvantages.

The type of material being studied, sensitivity, the potential for interference, accessibility of reference spectra, and researchers’ encounter are additional factors to consider when deciding between Raman spectroscopy and FTIR spectroscopy. These factors are in addition to sample preparation requirements and the requirement for knowledge of chemical interaction and crystallization.

The choice of approach should be based on the study’s specific needs because both strategies offer advantages and disadvantages.