Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) has been applied to the elemental characterization of unprocessed cotton. This research is important in forensic and fraud detection applications to establish an elemental fingerprint of U.S. cotton by region, which can be used to determine the source of the cotton. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a LIBS method for the elemental analysis of cotton. The experimental setup consists of a Nd:YAG laser that operates at the fundamental wavelength as the LIBS excitation source and an echelle spectrometer equipped with an intensified CCD camera. The relative concentrations of elements Al, Ba, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, and Sr from both nutrients and environmental contributions were determined by LIBS. Principal component analysis was used to visualize the differences between cotton samples based on the elemental composition by region in the U.S. Linear discriminant analysis of the LIBS data resulted in the correct classification of of the cotton samples by U.S. region and correct classification by state of origin.
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