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Title: Influence of Atmospheric Pressure and Composition on LIBS

Most LIBS experiments are conducted at standard atmospheric pressure in air. However, there are LIBS studies that vary the pressure and composition of the gas. These studies have provided insights into fundamentals of the mechanisms that lead to the emission and methods for improving the quality of LIBS spectra. These atmospheric studies are difficult because the effects of pressure and gas composition and interconnected, making interpretation of the results difficult. The influence of pressures below and above 760 Torr have been explored. Performing LIBS on a surface at reduced pressures (<760 Torr) can result in enhanced spectra due to higher resolution, increased intensity, improved signal-to-noise (S/N), and increased ablation. Lower pressures produce increased resolution because the line width in LIBS spectra is predominantly due to Stark and Doppler broadening. Stark broadening is primarily caused from collisions between electrons and atoms, while Doppler broadening is proportional to the plasma temperature. Close examination using a high resolution spectrometer reveals that spectra show significant peak broadening and self-absorption as pressures increase, especially for pressures >760 Torr. During LIBS plasma expansion, energy is lost to the surrounding atmosphere, which reduces the lifetime of the laser plasma. Therefore, reducing the pressure increases the lifetime ofmore » the plasma, allowing more light from the laser plasma to be collected; thus, increasing the observed signal intensity. However, if pressures are too low (<10 Torr), then there is a steep drop in LIBS spectral intensity. This loss in intensity is mostly due to a disordered plasma that results from the lack of sufficient atmosphere to provide adequate confinement. At reduced pressures, the plasma expands into a less dense atmosphere, which results in a less dense shock wave. The reduced density in the shock wave results in reduced plasma shielding, allowing more photons to reach the sample. Increasing the number of photons interacting with the sample surface results in increased ablation, which can lead to increased intensity. The composition of the background gas has been shown to greatly influence the observed LIBS spectra by altering the plasma temperature, electron density, mass removal, and plasma shielding that impact the emission intensity and peak resolution. It has been reported that atmospheric Ar results in the highest plasma temperature and electron density, while a He atmosphere results in the lowest plasma temperatures and electron density. Studying temporal data, it was also found that Ar had the slowest decay of both electron density and plasma temperature, while He had the fastest decay in both parameters. The higher plasma temperature and electron density results in an increase in line broadenin, or poor resolution, for Ar compared to He. A rapidly developing LIBS plasma with a sufficient amount of electrons can absorb a significant portion of the laser pulse through inverse Bremsstahlung. Ar (15.8 eV ) is more easily ionized than He (24.4 eV). The breakdown threshold for He at 760 Torr is approximately 3 times greater than Ar and approximately 5 times greater at 100 Torr. The lower breakdown threshold in Ar, compared to He, creates an environment favorable for plasma shielding, which reduces sample vaporization and leads to a weaker LIBS signal.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Pacific Univ., Forest Grove, OR (United States). Dept. of Chemistry
  2. Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States). Chemical and Radiation Measurement
  3. Univ. of California, San Diego, CA (United States). Center for Energy Research
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Related Information: Chapter 4 in Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Springer Series in Optical Sciences, 182, Musazzi, S. and Perini, U. (eds.). DOI: 10:1007/978-3-642-45085-3_4
Springer-Verlag, Berlin (Germany)
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Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
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United States