Physics and Astronomy

Physics Seminar Series

Raman Microscopy of Archaeological and Extraterrestrial Samples

presented by Ally Carr C'19

Wednesday, February 20, 7:30 - 8:30pm, Woods Labs 216


When sunlight comes through our atmosphere, it interacts with all the material it collides with. In a few cases, about one out of every ten million photons scatters inelastically. This causes a change in energy, which alters the wavelength of the light scattered off the material. The shift in wavelength depends on the molecular structure and vibrations of the target, which yields a unique spectrum. Using Raman spectroscopy, one can non-invasively identify unknown materials by their characteristic Raman spectra (vibrational “fingerprints”). By coupling a Raman system with an optical microscope, we can identify individual microscopic unknowns and thus gain further insight into the composition and microstructure of archaeological and geological samples, meteorites, pharmaceuticals and many other molecular or crystalline materials.

I will present my observations, findings and plans for a variety of materials. Some came from an ancient tell (artificial mound) in Serbia, others from far beyond our atmosphere, but all further our understanding of the world.


Alexandra Carr, C’19, is a senior physics major and pre-engineering student at the University of the South from Washington, DC. She is the past president of Sewanee’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students and a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.

For more informationProf. Eugene Donev (931) 598-3154 |



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