Raman micro-spectroscopy

An interesting technique arising from inelastic scattering is Raman spectroscopy, which is sensitive to vibrational excitations of molecular bonds. Since the energy of the vibrational interaction is specific to the type of bond being excited, Raman spectra provide a chemical “fingerprint” of the material being studied. For biomedical imaging, Raman spectra provide insight into the composition of cells and tissues, including their lipid, protein and DNA content, as well as chemical modifications of these molecules. We perform our Raman studies on living cells in culture, enabled by imaging chambers that maintain temperature, humidity and atmosphere compatible with cell culture. We also use Raman spectroscopy in the study of excised tissue from small animal models and human patients. Our motivation for developing new methods using Raman spectroscopy is to ask biological research questions relating to oxidative stress and metabolism in living cells that are not possible using traditional cell labelling methods.

Comparison of Raman spectroscopy (A-C) and fluorescence imaging (D-F) showing the potential of Raman scattering to reveal cellular biochemistry in a label-free manner. Taken fromSurmacki et al (2018) Scientific Reports.

Nailfold capillaroscopy

Capillaroscopy is a technique used to image the blood vessels in the fingernail-fold to diagnose disease, particularly targeted to rheumatic diseases such as systemic scleroderma. Capillaries are small blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to our tissues and remove metabolic waste products. Capillaroscopy systems allow a single red blood cell column to be visualised and measured in vivo, providing a unique model system for advancing our new spectral imaging technologies based on the absorption of light by oxy- and deoxy-haemoglobin.

Lab members:

Marlous Kamp, Michaela Taylor-Williams, Calum Williams


Dr Christian Frezza, Prof. Mike Murphy (University of Cambridge, UK)

Dr Michael Berks, Dr Andrea Murray (University of Manchester, UK)