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Carbon and nanotechnology

Raman spectroscopy is probably the most important analytical tool available for investigating the many different structures produced from carbon.

You can use Raman to identify all the forms, including graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNT), graphite, diamond, and diamond-like carbon (DLC).

The massive range of consumer products that use carbon-based materials—and the promise of carbon materials for future technologies—make this a key application area for Raman spectroscopy.

Analyse all the forms of carbon

Renishaw's Raman systems are being used to research, develop, and control the quality of carbon materials. You can determine:

  • the number of graphene layers, and their defects, doping and strain
  • Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) thickness and hybridised composition (sp2 and sp3)
  • Carbon Nanotube (CNT) diameter and functionalisation
  • diamond stress, purity and origin (synthetic or natural)
  • the properties of C60 and other fullerenes
  • the structural composition of amorphous carbons

Analyse monolayers and thin films

Some of the most interesting forms of carbon consist of single, or just a few, atomic layers. The high sensitivity of Renishaw's Raman systems makes identifying and analysing them quick and easy.


The high spatial resolution of Renishaw's inVia confocal Raman microscope makes it suitable for studying the structure and defects of carbon materials, such as graphene and CNTs.

Renishaw can combine Raman analysis with scanning probe microscopes (such as atomic force microscopes). These systems add chemical analysis capabilities to the high spatial resolution topography and property information acquired by SPMs/AFMs. You can also use tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) to acquire nanometre-scale Raman chemical information.

All encompassing spectra

Renishaw's SynchroScan produces high-resolution wide-range spectra. Collecting data covering the entire Raman and photoluminescence range is simple and fast. For example, you can:

  • see carbon nanotube radial-breathing modes (RBMs), with the G and 2D bands, together
  • study photoluminescence features associated with defects in diamond, as well as its Raman spectrum

More signal, no damage

Some thin carbon films, such as DLC, can be damaged by high laser power densities. With Renishaw's line-focus laser illumination technology, power densities are reduced, but total laser power is retained. You can collect high quality data rapidly, without damaging your samples.

Quality assurance

Renishaw has over 20 years experience providing systems to verify the quality of carbon materials. Its systems are used worldwide to quickly and accurately check the quality of materials. 

Download an application note

Watch a movie

  • StreamLineHR Rapide - graphene

    Using a Renishaw inVia confocal Raman microscope and WiRE™ software to image graphene. The image build up is shown at true data collection speed using StreamLineHR Rapide. The analysis clearly shows monolayer and multilayer graphene. A second image shows defects in the graphene.

Image gallery

  • StreamLineHR™ Rapide image of graphene
  • AFM image of a graphene flake with Raman spectra from far-field and TERS measurements.
  • White light and Raman images of graphene
  • White light and Raman images of diamond film
  • Raman and photoluminescence images of diamond film
  • Raman image of a carbon nanotube

Find out more

We're here when you need us

To find out more about this application area, or an application that isn't covered here, contact our applications team.