AFM-Raman (TERS) for nano-scale imaging of pharmaceutical solid dispersions and characterisation of nano-particles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Pharmacy


This project will investigate for the first time the application of Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) to imaging of pharmaceutical formulations, with a view to ultimately using the data gathered to build a predictive model for medicine formulation. The project is driven by an urgent unmet need in pharmaceutical industry for chemical imaging at the nano-scale - existing techniques such as infra-red or Raman spectroscopy are essentially diffraction-limited and can only deliver information at a length scale of 300-500 microns. TERS combines the chemical specificity of Raman imaging with the spatial resolution of atomic-force microscopy (nano-metres), while also offering a potential massive enhancement of Raman signal (several orders of magnitude). AstraZeneca are the project partners. Key EPSRC research areas covered by the project include: analytical science; chemical structure; manufacturing technologies; operational research; and particle technology. The use of TERS to provide answers to problems with medicines which originate at the nanoscale offers an opportunity for medicine developers to greatly increase the chance of their formulations entering the market (potential financial impact measured in tens of millions of pounds), however TERS is an advanced technology not yet available off-the-shelf. The project will therefore allow the use of TERS in a pharmaceutically relevant setting and enable a wealth of new science, while also enabling AstraZeneca to evaluate whether to pursue further research into this technique.

The project combines cutting-edge science (phase separation in complex mixtures, mechanisms of medicine failure, new application areas for advanced analysis methods) with a clear commercial and industrial need, and is therefore very well placed for EPSRC funding


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/W503162/1 13/04/2021 12/04/2022
2199504 Studentship NE/W503162/1 30/09/2017 11/11/2021