Perspectives on the History of the Raman Effect and its Implementation

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888–1970) reported the light scattering phenomenon that has become known as the Raman effect in 1928 (Raman and Krishnan 1928). This followed theoretical predictions by Smekal (1923) that such a phenomenon should exist. Raman initially used sunlight, and then the light from a mercury lamp, to excite the spectrum presumably produced when a photon of light lost a small amount of its energy to a molecular vibration.

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v16n2 From the Editors

Light interacts with matter in different ways. It can be absorbed, transmitted, reflected, or scattered. Scientists can measure those light–matter interactions to reveal incredible details about the structure and reactivity of matter. When it comes to scattered light, it is likely you are most familiar with Rayleigh scattering, in which light is elastically scattered by small molecules and the wavelength (or color) doesn’t change. It is the reason behind the blue color of the sky. Maybe less familiar is the small amount of light (typically 0.0000001%) that is scattered at different wavelengths. This inelastic scattering of light, or Raman effect, is due to the incident light interacting with the chemical structure (bonding) within the matter. The Raman effect may be small (only about 1 part in 10 million), but it is mighty. Discover why by reading the articles in this issue of Elements.

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Our Academic Family

This past year has seen the departure of many of our great colleagues who shaped the fields of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry. They were part of our extended academic family and will be greatly missed. Although their academic contributions can be found in their curriculum vitae and scientific publications, their personal histories, the things that shaped their lives and careers, are more elusive. However, personal histories, where published, can capture the “human” aspect behind the scientist and include stories filled with happiness and humor, hardship and perseverance, and, above all, serendipity.

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