LIBS has been used for more than 30 years as a laboratory technique, capable of analyzing any element in the periodic table. Recently, the technique has been miniaturized into a handheld device (HH LIBS) capable of analyzer any element, depending on the spectrometer range chosen for the device.
1 - A pulsed laser, typically in the 5-6 mJ/pulse energy range and pulsing 50 times per second (50 Hz) is fired at a sample. The laser passes through a focusing lens, to focus the laser beam down to approximately a 50 um diameter. The pulse duration is 1-2 ns (billionths of a second) thus yielding a high enough power density (energy/area/time) to vaporize the material producing a plasma.
2 - As the plasma cools over a few hundred micro-seconds, the electrons that were stripped from the atoms recombine with the atoms, emitting light in the UV, optical and infra-red spectrum.
3 - An on-board spectrometer analyzes the emitted light by measuring the wavelength and intensity (amount) of light at specific wavelengths – the optical spectrum.
4 - On-board software compares the spectral lines with known wavelengths to identify what elements are present, and uses the intensity of those lines with an on-board calibration, to quantify the concentration of the element.
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