Characteristics of the plasma light source of microwave (MW) plus laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) or spark-induced breakdown spectroscopy (SIBS) were studied. The plasma was initially generated by laser- or spark-induced breakdown as a plasma seed. A plasma volume was then grown and sustained by MWs in air. This MW plasma had a long lifetime, large volume, strong emission intensity, and high stability with time. These characteristics are suitable for applications in the molecular analysis of gases such as OH or . Because the plasma properties did not depend on laser or spark plasma seeds, the resulting plasma was easily controllable by the input power and duration of the MWs. Therefore, a significant improvement was achieved in the spectral intensity and signal-to-noise ratio. For example, the peak intensity of the Pb spectra of LIBS increased 15 times, and that of SIBS increased 880 times without increases in their background noise. A MW-enhanced plasma light source could be used to make the total system smaller and cheaper than a conventional LIBS system, which would be useful for real-time and in situ analysis of gas molecules in, for example, food processing, medical applications, chemical exposure, and gas turbine or automobile air-to-fuel ratio and exhaust gas measurement.
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