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At Agilent, formerly Cobalt Light Systems, we continuously push the boundaries of our Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS™) and Transmission Raman Spectroscopy (TRS™) technologies to develop new products and applications


Cobalt continually looks at new applications of its core technologies and has worked with several research groups to develop new instruments. R&D applications typically require high quality, stable and reproducible instruments designed to exacting standards. Cobalt products use a flexible platform, called the LiteThru™ engine, coupled with application-specific SORS or TRS probes to meet the end application.

Our patented SORS and TRS techniques enable quantitative and qualitative analysis of a range of diffusely scattering materials. These new technologies enable researchers to focus on specific subsurface regions and layers from millimetres to centimetres deep. This has great potential in a wide variety of fields. Applications include:

  • Non-invasive human tissue analysis
  • Industrial production monitoring
  • Monitoring of catalysts in situ
  • Artistic artefacts – paintings and other objects

Biomedical Applications

A study published in October 2014 used a Cobalt Raman instrument in non-invasive scanning of patients limbs for diagnosis of bone diseases; the first human bone disease trial of its type. The study, carried out by researchers at University College London (UCL), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), was able to detect chronic and debilitating diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) and osteoporosis without invasive surgical techniques or ionising X-rays.

Another research study has focused on non-invasive characterisation of breast tissue calcifications, in an effort to quickly and easily diagnose benign and malignant lesions in breast tissue without the need for invasive surgery.

Forensic Archaeology

Research featured on BBC News in the UK in December 2014 highlighted the use of a Cobalt instrument to analyse bones from sailors aboard King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, which sunk in 1545. Researchers used a Cobalt SORS device to non-destructively find evidence of rickets, which is known to be caused by poor diets typical of the 16th century. The technique, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, showed the potential as a tool for understanding bone diseases in historical populations, and it is hoped that this knowledge will aid modern day disease prevention.

Cobalt's SORS instrument analysing bones from the Mary Rose (UK only)

Cobalt's SORS instrument analysing bones from the Mary Rose (UK only)

For all the latest information on Cobalt’s ongoing research and development collaborations, visit our News & Press and Journal Publications pages.

If you have an interesting application and would like to discuss how our SORS & TRS technologies may be of benefit, contact us at