One section of the paper is particularly worthy of highlighting, and that is the demonstration of local thermal equilibrium (LTE) in the LIBS plasmas in the study. Many LIBS papers contain linear calibration curves relating the amplitude of the LIBS signal of an element to the concentration of the elemental analyte of interest. However, few discuss the fact that linear calibration curves are only expected from a theoretical point of view if the LTE condition exists. The authors relate the steps needed to verify the existence of LTE in a logical fashion that lends itself to be duplicated by others for different materials and applications. This includes such LIBS fundamentals as plasma temperature and electron density measurements. These measurements are not only are needed for verifying LTE, but they also give researchers a feel for how different experimental parameters (laser pulse energy, optical layout, etc.) affect the plasma. This knowledge, in turn, gives researchers insights into how to optimize a LIBS experiments for their particular application or material.
The study’s implications in the area of public health will also serve to expand interest in LIBS. This “real world” application is an excellent illustration of its wide applicability to many different fields, and should generate many new ideas for LIBS applications.
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