National Science Day: What is Raman Effect, discovered by Sir C.V. Raman

National Science Day: What is Raman Effect, discovered by Sir C.V. Raman

The Raman Effect, discovered by Sir C.V. Raman in 1928, is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when light interacts with molecules. Here’s a breakdown with an example:


  • When light shines on a transparent material, most of the light passes through unchanged.
  • However, a small amount of the light gets “scattered” by the molecules in the material, meaning it bounces off in different directions.
  • The Raman Effect describes a specific type of scattering where the scattered light has a slightly different wavelength compared to the original light.

Think of it like this:

  • Imagine throwing a ball (light) against a wall (molecule). Most of the time, the ball bounces back (scattered light) with the same speed (wavelength).
  • But in the Raman Effect, it’s as if the ball sometimes sticks to the wall for a brief moment (energy exchange) and then bounces back with slightly less speed (longer wavelength).

The key points:

  • This change in wavelength, called the “Raman shift,” provides information about the vibrational modes of the molecules in the material.
  • Different molecules have unique vibrational patterns, and the Raman shift acts like a fingerprint, allowing us to identify the material itself.


  • Imagine shining a laser pointer (light source) on a diamond (material). The scattered light will contain a specific Raman shift pattern unique to the diamond’s molecular structure.
  • By analyzing this pattern, scientists can confirm it’s a genuine diamond and not a fake.


  • Raman spectroscopy, based on the Raman Effect, is a powerful non-destructive technique used in various fields:
    • Material science: Identifying components in alloys, analyzing polymers, and studying semiconductors.
    • Chemistry: Identifying unknown substances, analyzing reaction products, and studying drug-molecule interactions.
    • Biology: Analyzing proteins, studying DNA, and detecting cancerous cells.
    • Forensics: Identifying paints, fibers, and explosives.

The Raman Effect is a testament to Sir C.V. Raman’s brilliance and continues to be a valuable tool in scientific research and analysis across diverse disciplines.

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