Raman spectroscopy and microscopy of individual cells and cellular components

James W Chan, Samantha Fore, Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu, Thomas R Huser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Raman spectroscopy provides the unique opportunity to nondestructively analyze chemical concentrations in individual cells on the submicrometer length scale without the need for optical labels. This enables the rapid assessment of cellular biochemistry inside living cells, and it allows for their continued analysis. Here, we review recent developments in the analysis of single cells, subcellular compartments, and chemical imaging based on Raman spectroscopy. Spontaneous Raman spectroscopy provides for the full spectral assessment of cellular biochemistry, while coherent Raman techniques, such as coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering is primarily used as an imaging tool comparable to confocal fluorescence microscopy. These techniques are complemented by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, which provides higher sensitivity and local specificity, and also extends the techniques to chemical indicators, i.e. pH sensing. We review the strengths and weaknesses of each technique, demonstrate some of their applications and discuss their potential for future research in cell biology and biomedicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-349
Number of pages25
JournalLaser and Photonics Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008


  • CARS microscopy
  • Coherent anti-stokes Raman scattering
  • Laser tweezers
  • Nanoparticles
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • SERS
  • Single-cell microscopy
  • Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
  • Time-correlated single-photon counting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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