2. Review

Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy
Edited by Ian Lewis & Howell Edwards

Marcel Dekker NY & Basel 2001
ISBN 0-8247-0557-2
Cost $225 US. Orders of 5 or more for teaching $89.75 US per copy.

This book is volume 28 of Dekker’s excellent series on practical spectroscopy and its complete title includes ‘From the Research Laboratory to the process line’.

Handbooks have to be broad-based, really useful and up-to-date. They must be such that you wonder how you ever got by without them! True ‘handbooks’ are rare e.g. the IUPAC tables of frequencies or the Rubber Company Handbook of Chemical & Physical Constants. I am confident this book will join them in every Raman lab. I have had the book for only 10 days and have found myself drawn to it on at least a dozen occasions and recommended specific articles three times already to colleagues.

The Handbook contains 26 pieces on the applications of Raman, the theory and instrumentation. All the authors are well known experts. Subjects covered include applications in the Industrial Environment, on gases, gemmology, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, in aqueous systems, the Raman spectra of carbon including carbon overcoats and in archaeology. Articles on the monitoring of industrial processes or polymers, in biomolecular dynamics and even on in vitro studies appear whilst undergraduate teaching is not ignored. So, the coverage is most certainly adequate for a true handbook.

As we all know, multi author compilations almost invariably suffer from drastic variations in style and depth and usually vary from the folksy informal to the rigorous absolutely opaque. The editors are to be congratulated for achieving an amazingly uniform coverage and depth throughout. Each article surveys the appropriate field and includes a very comprehensive bibliography. One chapter, on a very new field, the use of Raman in industrial processes lists no less that 266 papers and books. The article on Microscopy is enormous! It covers 100 pages and is almost a monograph in itself. the following chapter on accuracy in Raman measurements is short, but the subject is rarely covered in collection – again of immense value.

The Handbook really is what it says – a truly valuable book to put on the top of the machine and to use daily.

Book reviewers have to find something wrong to prove they are doing their job! I feel mean but I did think that the article on the evolution/revolution of Raman instrumentation seriously underplays the role of F-T Raman methods. The ability to record spectra of almost anything put in the sample area and to do so incredibly rapidly with hitherto unheard of throughputs (even 10-15 samples per hour are routine) made a huge impact when F-T appeared late in the 1980’s. Dr. Adar, I felt, missed this convenience and value in routine analysis in her otherwise excellent piece. Perhaps I’m being a little pedantic – after all, one of the Editors is Britain’s leading F-T Raman expert and he must have approved the piece. I rest my case! Just go and buy the book – you won’t regret it, it is worth every penny (cent!). I’m sure it will be battered and dog-eared in no time at all.