Comparison of Raman and near-infrared chemical mapping for the analysis of pharmaceutical tablets

Hannah Carruthers, Don Clark, Fiona Clarke, Karen Faulds, Duncan Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
141 Downloads (Pure)


Raman and near-infrared (NIR) chemical mapping are widely used methods in the pharmaceutical industry to understand the distribution of components within a drug product. Recent advancements in instrumentation have enabled the rapid acquisition of high-resolution images. The comparison of these techniques for the analysis of pharmaceutical tablets has not recently been explored and thus the relative performance of each technique is not currently well defined. Here, the differences in the chemical images obtained by each method are assessed and compared with scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (SEM-EDX), as an alternative surface imaging technique to understand the ability of each technique to acquire a chemical image representative of the sample surface. It was found that the Raman data showed the best agreement with the spatial distribution of components observed in the SEM-EDX images. Quantitative and qualitative comparison of the Raman and NIR images revealed a very different spatial distribution of components with regards to domain size and shape. The Raman image exhibited sharper and better discriminated domains of each component, whereas the NIR image was heavily dominated by large pixelated domains. This study demonstrated the superiority of using Raman chemical mapping compared with NIR chemical mapping to produce a chemical image representative of the sample surface using routinely available instrumentation to obtain a better approximation of domain size and shape. This is fundamental for understanding knowledge gaps in current manufacturing processes; particularly relating the relationship between components in the formulation, processing condition, and final characteristics. By providing a means to more accurately visualize the components within a tablet matrix, these areas can all be further understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-188
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
Issue number2
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Raman mapping
  • near-infrared mapping
  • NIR mapping
  • chemical imaging
  • pharmaceuticals
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • energy dispersive X-ray analysis
  • pharmaceutical tablets
  • imaging tablets


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