Microalgae producing oils can be converted into biodiesel, thus promising a viable fuel to help solve the global energy crisis. However, despite the recent booming of research on microalgae, until now research has not benefited from modern high-throughput, high-resolution, real-time, and in vivo biophysical techniques.
Traditionally, these microalgae were treated in bulk, lyophilised or in extracted forms, making it impossible to assess the information on fundamental biological processes in the single-cell or sub-cellular level. Utilising the new 1064 nanometres Raman spectrometer, in situ, in vivo and label-free Raman characterisations of modelled algal lipids are made, extracted algal oil, and most importantly, single living algae. Studies have demonstrated a label-free and direct method to obtain quantitative information of chain length and degree of unsaturation of the oil produced inside algae. It also connects with the important issues of the cloud point and the quality of algal biodiesel. Single-cell, real-time, and in vivo study of algae, with various lipid-triggering mechanisms, enables the possibility of researching and engineering of the best conditions and the best species for algal growth and oil production.