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Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) Analyses of Paper, Inks, and Soils

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2015
15 pages

This project's goal was to demonstrate the utility of an analytical chemistry tool that is relatively new to forensic laboratories, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), in conducting elemental analysis of ink, paper, and soil evidence quickly and with little or no sample preparation.


The commercial LIBS instrumental results were compared to previously optimized in-house LIBS systems and also to the alternative forensic tools of LA-ICP-MS, mXRF, and SEM-EDS, which offer good analytical performance but suffer from either very high costs and significant complexity (in the case of LS-ICP-MS) or analytical limitations in the form of sample requirement and relatively high detection limits (in the case of mXRF and SEM-EDS). Although less mature than LA-ICP-MS, LIBS also shares the benefits associated with laser ablation methods, with the added advantage of improved speed, versatility, ease of operation, affordability, and portability. This project shows that both LA-ICP-MS and LIBS are useful analytical tools for the analysis of paper, inks, soil, and cotton. The results have been presented in analytical chemistry and forensic science journals and venues. 4 figures, 2 tables, and 5 references

Date Published: January 1, 2015