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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Raman spectroscopy: the gateway into tomorrow's virology

Phelps J Lambert, Audy G Whitman, Ossie F Dyson and Shaw M Akula*

Author Affiliations

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

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Virology Journal 2006, 3:51  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-3-51

Published: 28 June 2006

Abstract

In the molecular world, researchers act as detectives working hard to unravel the mysteries surrounding cells. One of the researchers' greatest tools in this endeavor has been Raman spectroscopy. Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique that measures the unique Raman spectra for every type of biological molecule. As such, Raman spectroscopy has the potential to provide scientists with a library of spectra that can be used to unravel the makeup of an unknown molecule. However, this technique is limited in that it is not able to manipulate particular structures without disturbing their unique environment. Recently, a novel technology that combines Raman spectroscopy with optical tweezers, termed Raman tweezers, evades this problem due to its ability to manipulate a sample without physical contact. As such, Raman tweezers has the potential to become an incredibly effective diagnostic tool for differentially distinguishing tissue, and therefore holds great promise in the field of virology for distinguishing between various virally infected cells. This review provides an introduction for a virologist into the world of spectroscopy and explores many of the potential applications of Raman tweezers in virology.