In a recent AGU article, Richard Sima discusses the potential of LIBS for illuminating the geosciences. From the three instruments on the Mars rovers to the handheld LIBS used for fieldwork on Earth, Sima discusses the benefits and limitations of the versatile instrument.
Dr. Russell Harmon, who has been working with laboratory LIBS for over 20 years and SciAps handheld LIBS since 2015, shares his thoughts about the “geochemical tool for the 21st century.”
Recently, Harmon and Dr. Lewis Owen (pictured) of North Carolina State University used the SciAps Z-300 LIBS to analyze rock varnish on granite boulders in the Alabama Hills of east central California. Novel applications like this one, where the LIBS detected and identified elements, performed micro-chemical mapping and subsurface compositional profiling, are just the beginning for handheld LIBS.
Summary: Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy is a versatile geochemical tool being used in a wide range of applications, from Mars rovers to earthly rock identification. Because LIBS can capture the entire elemental composition of a sample, it is a versatile technique that can be readily applied in many different scientific domains. It is capable of quantitative and qualitative analysis of the elemental composition of materials such as rocks, minerals, metals, sediments, soils, archaeological artifacts, gases, liquids, explosives, and beyond. It’s also useful both in the laboratory and in the field, on Earth or off it.
Keywords: cool tools, Earth science, geochemistry, lasers, spectroscopy
Access to publication: https://doi.org/10.1029/2021EO210544
About this magazine: Eos is the science news magazine published by AGU.
More novel applications for handheld LIBS
LIBS test method for fluorine in food packaging
Analyses of Li-rich minerals using handheld LIBS
Screening for Conflict Minerals: Columbite-Tantalite and Beyond
Analysis of Rare Earth Elements in Uranium Using Handheld LIBS
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