Multi-pulse laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) in the collinear pulse configuration with time-integrating detection was performed on metallic samples in ambient air in an effort to clarify the contributing processes responsible for the signal enhancement observed in comparison with single-pulse excitation. Complementary experiments were also carried out on another LIBS setup using detection by an imaging spectrograph with high time resolution. The effects of laser bursts consisting of up to seven ns-range pulses from Nd-doped solid-state lasers operating at their fundamental wavelength and separated by 8.5–50 μs time gaps was studied. The ablation and emission characteristics of the generated plasmas were investigated using light profilometry, microscopy, plasma imaging, emission distribution mapping, time-resolved line emission monitoring, and plasma temperature calculations. The experimental data suggest that the two contributing processes mainly responsible for the signal enhancement effect are the plume reheating caused by the sequential laser pulses and, more dominantly, the increased material ablation attributed to the lower breakdown threshold for the preheated (molten) sample surface and/or the reduced background gas pressure behind the shockwave of preceding pulses.

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