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On the identification of amber and its imitations using Raman spectroscopy - preliminary results

  • Far East Gemological Institute, Singapore.


A total of 173 specimens of amber and its imitations were examined using conventional gemmological methods, followed by Raman spectroscopy. While conventional gem testing methods determined the basic gemmological properties of these organic compounds, the results obtained by Raman spectroscopy seemed to complement these findings. Compared to conventional gemmological testing methods, Raman spectroscopy is fast, non-contact, and non-destructive. Use of a near-infrared laser effectively eliminated the strong fluorescence in the yellow and red that is generated when a laser operating in the visible range excites amber.
... Raman spectroscopy was performed with a Renishaw InVia Raman microscope, using a 785 nm laser in the range of 1768-1400 cm -1 . No sample preparation was needed, and this method is also useful for differentiating amber from its imitations (Tay et al., 1998;Shashoua et al., 2006) and determining the country of origin of some ambers (Leelawatanasuk et al., 2013). ...
Raman instrumentation design has improved radically in efficiency and ease of use over the past 15 years. New technologies made this possible with introduction of the first commercial high-efficiency (high speed) Raman systems incorporating low power lasers. Systems were introduced for the first time on production and process lines. Higher efficiency systems have continued to evolve, as a result of novel engineering solutions. Raman-near field optical systems and Raman-SEM (scanning electron microscopy) combinations have created a new area of nanoscale spectroscopic measurements. New application areas are: (a) semiconductor processing; (b) pharmaceutical drug processing; (c) gemology; (d) narcotic and explosives forensic detection; (e) coatings on computer hard disks and read heads; (f) endoscopic and Raman detection of oesophageal and other types of cancer. Comparisons are made with competing optical and alternative instrumentation techniques for general Raman work and the applications.
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