Abstract

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 N2. 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.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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