Raman spectroscopy setups are quite expensive- \$10-\$30k seems pretty common. The spectrometer, the probe/fiber cable, and the laser are typically each $3k+.

The spectrometer could potentially be replaced by an absorption spectrometer. The probe/fiber cable could potentially be replaced by free space optics. The Raman-specific laser could potentially be replaced by a cheaper laser. These components can be had for hundreds of dollars instead of tens of thousands.

Some potential negative effects I can imagine from swapping these out are:

  1. Increased integration times
  2. Decreased spectral resolution, or wider peaks
  3. Decreased signal to noise ratio
  4. Increased maintenance
  5. Shorter lifetime

My broad question which I hope will be generally useful is, which of these components can be replaced with cheaper options with what effect?

My specific question, which may be less generally helpful, is which components should I get cheaper if I only care about signal-to-noise ratio and not integration time or peak width?

  • $\begingroup$ While this does not qualify as answer, rather than an entry point, Mohr et al. addressed some of your questions in J. Chem. Educ., 2010, 87, 326-330; doi: 10.1021/ed800081t $\endgroup$ – Buttonwood Mar 15 '17 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ You have to realize that the company selling the spectrometer almost certainly didn't make the laser. Any component like that gets marked up 100%. So if the seller bought the laser for \$1500, it gets sold for \$3000 as a field replaceable part. // If you want to be the integrator fine. You can build a spectrometer cheaper. You'll need to know sheet metal work, machining, painting, optics, electronics, and computer programming. Best wishes.... $\endgroup$ – MaxW Mar 15 '17 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @MaxW I'm interested in the modular version, not bench top or homemade bench top. Ocean Optics, Thunder Optics, and others will sell them modularly, broken out in the pieces I've identified. You can then very easily go cheaper on one module while going with a more precise/accurate component elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – ericksonla Mar 15 '17 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ We ended up developing a pretty low cost option as described that worked really well for simple applications: osapublishing.org/DirectPDFAccess/… $\endgroup$ – ericksonla May 9 '19 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ericksonla: your paper link is broken. Please add the reference. (I've seen your question only now - as a partial answer I'd say that several characteristics that can be traded off against each other. One crucial thing that will drive costs in academic settings is that it is typically more expensive to get good quality together with flexibility - the instrument should not only be suitable for the study now, but also for still unknown studies in future. I'd say that even the expensive Raman instruments in academic labs do actually make various trade-offs in that respect.) $\endgroup$ – cbeleites supports Monica Jul 20 '19 at 15:08