U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Reassociation of Skeletal Remains Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

NCJ Number
Analytical Chemistry Volume: 96, 23 Dated: June 2024 Pages: 9478–9485
Date Published
June 2024
8 pages

This study examines the use of portable laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to group skeletal remains based on their elemental profiles.


This study assesses how portable laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) can be used to group skeletal remains based on their elemental profiles. The findings indicate that variation exists among the LIBS profiles of individuals’ skeletal remains, highlighting the potential for portable LIBS technology to aid in the sorting of commingled remains. A major challenge in forensic anthropology and bioarcheology is the development of fast and effective methods for sorting commingled remains. LIBS spectra were acquired from the remains of 45 modern skeletons, with a total data set of 8388 profiles from 1284 bones. Spectral feature selection was conducted to reduce the spectral profiles to the peaks exhibiting the highest variation among individuals. Emission lines corresponding to 9 elements (Ca, P, C, K, Mg, Na, Al, Ba, and Sr) were found important for classification. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was concurrently used to classify each spectral profile. From the 45 individuals, each LIBS spectrum was successfully sorted to its corresponding skeleton with an average accuracy of 87%. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: June 1, 2024