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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

10 - Civilian and military environmental contamination studies using LIBS

Summary

Introduction

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) has demonstrated its capability in quantitative determination of elemental composition in various samples in laboratories for decades. Recently, the interest in applying LIBS to detect various hazardous materials in the environment has grown rapidly. This chapter reviews some recent work related to environmental contamination studies using LIBS. Two portable LIBS instruments developed for field application are described in this chapter. The first instrument has been used by the US Army Research Laboratory to analyze the contaminated soil from Army sites and also for other geological applications. The other system was used by Mississippi State University to detect the resources conservation and recovery act (RCRA) metals in the off-gas of industrial plants and in liquids. The practical problems with LIBS application in environmental application such as calibration and sensitivity are also discussed in this chapter. The concept of using a new generation of broadband spectrometers to improve LIBS' capability in monitoring multiple emission lines of the same element to improve the detection limit and other signal enhancement techniques is addressed. The initial result of LIBS application in environmental problems is encouraging. We believe that the performance of LIBS in environmental application will continuously improve with the commercial development of various components in LIBS detection system.

LIBS is a chemical sensor technology with a capability for real-time in situ analysis that was first demonstrated in the laboratory over two decades ago and is now at the threshold of widespread commercialization.

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