A laser microscope system for the microanalytical characterization of complex materials is described. The universal measuring principle of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) in combination with echelle optics permits a fast simultaneous multielement analysis with a possible spatial resolution below 10 pm. The developed system features completely UV-transparent optics for the laser-microscope coupling and the emission beam path and enables parallel signal detection within the wavelength range of 200–800 nm with a spectral resolution of a few picometers. Investigations of glass defects and tool steels were performed. The characterization of a glass defect in a tumbler by a micro-LIBS line scan, with use of a 266-nm diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser for excitation, is possible by simple comparison of plasma spectra of the defect and the surrounding area. Variations in the main elemental composition as well as impurities by trace elements are detected at the same time. Through measurement of the calibration samples with the known concentration of the corresponding element, a correlation between the intensity of spectral lines and the element concentration was also achieved. The change of elemental composition at the transient stellite solder of tool steels has been determined by an area scan. The two-dimensional pictures show abrupt changes of the element distribution along the solder edge and allow fundamental researches of dynamic modifications (e.g., diffusion) in steel.
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