LIBS technology


LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy) technology is at the heart of all ELEMISSION analyzers. It’s thanks to the LIBS process that ELEMISSION analyzers can detect, identify and classify or quantify the chemical composition of any material, regardless of its state (gas, liquid, solid, conductive or non-conductive). The recent success of the LIBS probe on the Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers has renewed interest in this technology for many applications, particularly in geology and geochemistry. 

But what exactly is LIBS technology? In short, it’s a form of atomic emission spectroscopy involving laser-generated plasma. LIBS combines all the necessary processes for atomic spectroscopy simultaneously: sample vaporization, atomization, and excitation. A LIBS measurement is performed by forming a plasma on the sample surface and then collecting and spectrally analyzing the light emanated from this plasma. 

This document has been written to provide a knowledge base and reference text for anyone interested in learning more about LIBS technology, whether for personal interest, a source for a scientific paper, or research into potentially purchasing an analyzer. Topics will include the LIBS process, applications, advantages of this technology over other elemental analysis processes, and components of a LIBS system.

How does it work?


Light-speed analysis

The advantage of sampling a large surface area of a solid is that its average composition can be accurately estimated. Analysis speed is an important parameter for fast access to signals that approximate the average sample composition. Until very recently, the acquisition speed for LIBS was limited to less than 20 measurements per second (20 Hz). The work of Rifai et al. demonstrated it would be possible and useful to use an acquisition frequency of 1,000 measurements per second (1,000 Hz). This high acquisition frequency allows the study of the multi-element spatial distribution of the sample’s surface on a new scale.

LIBS core imaging at kHz speed: Paving the way for real-time geochemical applications

Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy

Volume 150, December 2018, 43-48

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sab.2018.10.007

LIBS imaging


LIBS microanalysis is currently a particularly active field of application in recent literature. Until recently, sample analysis by LIBS consisted of effectively accumulating analytical signals without paying much attention to the spatial distribution of elements on the surface of the sample. It was standard practice to assume sample uniformity on a macroscopic/millimetric scale if a large enough area was sampled. However, microanalysis by LIBS reveals surprising information about the surface uniformity of a solid sample. In fact, spatial information can be used to understand several physio-chemical phenomena on the history of the sample’s forming, or any other property derived from it. In addition, LIBS tomography is a leading tool for studying the three-dimensional structure of solid samples.


Automated mineralogy

Emergences of New Technology for Ultrafast Automated Mineral Phase Identification and Quantitative Analysis Using the CORIOSITY Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) System


Volume 10, Issue 10, October 2020, 918

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/min10100918 

Ultrafast Elemental Mapping of Platinum Group Elements and Mineral Identification in Platinum-Palladium Ore Using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy


Volume 10, Issue 3, February 2020, 207

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030207 


Multi-elemental analysis



You need a robust multi-elemental analyzer which is enhanced by artificial intelligence automated mineralogy features?  Discover LIBS technology!


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