A 785 nm diode laser and probe with a 6 mm spot size were used to obtain spectra of stationary powders and powders mixing at 50 rpm in a high shear convective blender. Two methods of assessing the effect of particle characteristics on the Raman sampling depth for microcrystalline cellulose (Avicel), aspirin or sodium nitrate were compared: (i) the information depth, based on the diminishing Raman signal of TiO2 in a reference plate as the depth of powder prior to the plate was increased, and (ii) the depth at which a sample became infinitely thick, based on the depth of powder at which the Raman signal of the compound became constant The particle size, shape, density and/or light absorption capability of the compounds were shown to affect the "information" and "infinitely thick" depths of individual compounds. However, when different sized fractions of aspirin were added to Avicel as the main component, the depth values of aspirin were the same and matched that of the Avicel: 1.7 mm for the "information" depth and 3.5 mm for the "infinitely thick" depth. This latter value was considered to be the minimum Raman sampling depth when monitoring the addition of aspirin to Avicel in the blender. Mixing profiles for aspirin were obtained non-invasively through the glass wall of the vessel and could be used to assess how the aspirin blended into the main component, identify the end point of the mixing process (which varied with the particle size of the aspirin), and determine the concentration of aspirin in real time. The Raman procedure was compared to two other non-invasive monitoring techniques, near infrared (NIR) spectrometry and broadband acoustic emission spectrometry. The features of the mixing profiles generated by the three techniques were similar for addition of aspirin to Avicel. Although Raman was less sensitive than NIR spectrometry, Raman allowed compound specific mixing profiles to be generated by studying the mixing behaviour of an aspirin-aspartame-Avicel mixture.
- Raman spectrometry
- process analytical technologies (PAT)
- powder blending
- sampling depth
- real time monitoring