LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) is an extremely versatile spectroscopic technique which can be used to analyze the atomic composition of virtually any material.
In a LIBS system, a short laser pulse is used to ablate material from the surface of a sample. The laser pulse energy will be high enough to create a bright plasma on the surface of the sample. The spectrum of the plasma will contain sharp peaks corresponding to all the atoms present in the sample. The strength of the peaks will contain information about the relative concentration of the different atoms, however, advanced chemometric algorithms are typically required to perform such quantitative analyses. The lifetime of the plasma is typically 10 – 100 microseconds and the delay from the laser pulse to the creation of the plasma is typically 100 – 1000 nanoseconds. For this reason, many LIBS systems require accurate timing control.