Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) involves focusing a short laser pulse on a sample that then heats and atomizes, producing a localized plasma plume. Light from the plume is collected, dispersed by a spectrograph, and then typically focused on a CCD. The plume emits light whose wavelengths are characteristic of the atoms and ions present in the plasma, which in turn reflect the elemental composition of the sample. LIBS, therefore, is a form of atomic emission spectroscopy.

The major difference between LIBS and arc-spark emission spectroscopy is the means of generating the plasma. Right after the laser pulse, the plasma plume can be hot enough to give a continuum of radiation, masking the sharp spectral lines typical of the atoms and ions of interest. The continuum is frequently dealt with by using an intensified CCD (ICCD) camera capable of gating. By waiting a period of time (i.e., the insertion delay, typically from nanoseconds to microseconds) during which light is not allowed to fall on the CCD sensor, the plasma will cool down, the continuum radiation will abate, and the sharp spectral lines of interest can be seen. Thus, an ICCD camera is preferred for LIBS applications.

Advantages LIBS is considered one of the most convenient and efficient analytical techniques for trace elemental analysis in gases, solids, and liquids. LIBS spectra obtained by the Mars Curiosity Rover have confirmed that our sister planet could have harbored life.

Major advantages include:

  • Samples can be in virtually any form: gas, liquid, or solid
  • Easy and fast analysis • Noninvasive and minimally destructive technique
  • Remote measurements can be done from up to 50 meters away
  • Compact and inexpensive equipment can be widely used in industrial environments and is perfect for field measurements
  • High spatial resolution: can obtain 2D chemical and mechanical profiles of virtually any solid material with up to 1 µm precision
  • Little sample preparation is needed and materials can generally be analyzed in situ
  • High sensitivity: nanograms of material are detectable • In principle any chemical element can be analyzed
  • Analysis can be done on extremely hard materials (e.g., ceramics and superconductors) that are difficult to dissolve or sample in order to perform other types of analysis


Because of the many advantages of LIBS, it is a very attractive analytical tool. Here are a few examples of real-life applications where LIBS is successfully used:

  • Analysis of soils and minerals in geology, mining, and construction
  • Exploration of planets: the ChemCam on the Mars Curiosity rover is a LIBS system that has been used to determine the elemental composition of rocks on the red planet
  • Environmental monitoring: real-time analysis of air and water quality, as well as control of industrial sewage and exhaust gas emissions
  • Biological samples: noninvasive analysis of human hair and teeth for metal poisoning, cancer tissue diagnosis, bacteria type detection, detection of bio-aerosols and bio-hazards, anthrax, airborne infectious disease, viruses, sources of allergy, fungal spores, and pollen
  • Archaeology: analysis of artifacts
  • Architecture: quality control of stone buildings and glass
  • Army and Defense: detection of biological weapons and explosives
  • Forensics: analysis of the elemental composition of bullets
  • Combustion processes: analysis of intermediate combustion agents, combustion products, and furnace gases
  • Metal industry: in situ metal melting control, control of steel sheets quality, 2D mapping of Al alloys
  • Nuclear industry: detection of cerium in a uranium matrix


Recommended Products

PI-MAX4 ICCD Cameras -Ultimate in precision and intelligence - Gating to <500 picoseconds - Gen II or Gen III image intensifiers

IsoPlane Imaging Spectrographs - Zero astigmatism at all wavelengths across entire focal plane for better spectral resolution and SNR - Crisp, detailed images across the focal plane

Acton Series Monochromators & Spectrographs - Positrak™ grating stabilization offers simple calibration - Optimized coatings for higher throughput - Interchangeable grating turrets with a wide selection of gratings


Application Notes

High-Accuracy LIBS with Nanosecond and Picosecond Time Resolution Enabled by Ultrasensitive emICCD Technology
This note explains how the improved performance of the PIMAX4:1024EMB emICCD camera used in concert with an echelle spectrometer (LTB ARYELLE 200) delivers ultrahigh sensitivity for demanding LIBS applications on the nanosecond and picosecond timescales.

IsoPlane<br>  成像型光谱仪



LightField <br> 科学成像及光谱分析软件



SpectraPro <br> C-T型光谱仪



PI-MAX4<br>  ICCD & emICCD


PI-MAX4 系列的像增强型(ICCD)与电子增益型像增强(emICCD)相机, 是结合我们多年的研发经验积累设计出的门控型相机.


特色产品 Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

IsoPlane<br>  成像型光谱仪