Raman Effect

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Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of a photon. It was discovered by Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman and Kariamanickam Srinivasa Krishnan in liquids, and by Grigory Landsberg and Leonid Mandelstam in crystals.
When light is scattered from an atom or molecule, most photons are elastically scattered (Rayleigh scattering), such that the scattered photons have the same energy (frequency) and wavelength as the incident photons.



However, a small fraction of the scattered light (approximately 1 in 10 million photons) is scattered by an excitation, with the scattered photons having a frequency different from, and usually lower than, the frequency of the incident photons. In a gas, Raman scattering can occur with a change in vibrational or rotational energy of a molecule. Chemists are concerned primarily with the vibrational Raman effect.


The inelastic scattering of light was predicted by Adolf Smekal in 1923 (and in German-language literature it may be referred to as the Smekal-Raman effekt). In 1922, Indian physicist C. V. Raman published his work on the “Molecular Diffraction of Light,” the first of a series of investigations with his collaborators which ultimately led to his discovery (on 28 February 1928) of the radiation effect which bears his name.

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The Raman effect was first reported by C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan, and independently by Grigory Landsberg and Leonid Mandelstam, in 1928. Raman received the Nobel Prize in 1930 for his work on the scattering of light. In 1998 the Raman effect was designated an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of its significance as a tool for analyzing the composition of liquids, gases, and solids.

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