Chemical taggant detection and analysis by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy

Appl Opt. 2008 Nov 1;47(31):G15-20. doi: 10.1364/ao.47.000g15.


A commercially available chemical identification taggant that imparts a unique elemental fingerprint to any object and can be analytically distinguished from billions of possible combinations has been developed. The liquid tag is easily applied and, once dry, can be removed and analyzed by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to determine the combination of elements present in the sample. The current study investigates the use of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) as an alternative, and perhaps more practical, analysis scheme to LA-ICP-MS for this taggant. LIBS provides excellent discrimination potential, sensitivity, and repeatability of analysis for up to 17 rare-earth elements using a Nd:YAG 266 nm or 1064 nm laser and an intensified CCD detector.