A laser may not be the first tool most geoscientists think to use when analyzing geological samples, but the technique known as laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) holds great potential for illuminating the geosciences.
The speed and versatility of LIBS make it a “geochemical tool for the 21st century,” according to Harmon and Giorgio S. Senesi, a researcher at the Italian National Research Council (CNR). 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.
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