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Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) has been around for many years and is a technique used primarily in laboratory equipment. With recent advances in technology the technique has now been developed into a portable handheld analyzer capable of measuring carbon in the field for material identification and grading of materials.  Like OES, argon is still needed to analyze carbon in a LIBS handheld analyzer. Instead of an external argon tank, regulator, and hose connection to the OES unit, the LIBS analyzer uses a consumable argon cartridge integrated into the instrument; and with the analyzer’s battery the instrument weighs less than 6.5lbs. 

Sample preparation is still required for analysis but the handheld size of the instrument, the grinder, and sanding discs can all be contained in a small case and transported to elevated working platforms, pipeline ditches, and hard to access areas with minimal effort giving the user true field portability in a handheld carbon analyzer. A proper sample preparation is a critical step in the analysis of the sample. Poor sample preparation will yield undesirable results. With proper sample preparations the user can achieve fast, reliable, and accurate results. The LIBS analyzer can be used to measure light elements in low concentrations such as carbon, silicon, and aluminum. The capability of the LIBS analyzer gives the user the ability to easily grade L and H grade stainless steels, low alloys, and carbon steels. The instrument can also perform carbon equivalent (CE) or residual element (RE) calculations programmed by the user in an easy-to-use and intuitive interface.

The LIBS technique utilizes a pulsed laser to ablate the surface of the sample creating a plasma. As the plasma cools, the electrons from the cooling plasma are excited, causing the plasma to emit light. Each element of the periodic table produces a LIBS spectral peak unique to itself. By using a detector to measure the unique characteristics of light emitted, it is possible to detect what elements are present within the sample. By measuring the peaks of light and their intensities in the sample, the chemical composition can be rapidly determined and quantified in weighted percent concentrations (%), or parts per million (PPM).

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