Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) or Electron MicroProbe Analysis (EMPA)?

Despite their common goal of determining material composition, they are founded on different principles, employ varied approaches, and serve distinct applications. Have a look at a brief comparison of these technique’s capabilities below:

LIBS is renowned for its capability to conduct rapid chemical analyses, offering real-time elemental analysis with quick results and requiring minimal sample preparation. This technology can investigate a large variety of materials from alloys and polymers through ceramics and glass to minerals and biological samples. Another advantage of LIBS in terms of the elemental analysis itself is the ability to detect light elements such as B or even Be and Li (which are outside the physical limits of EMPA analysis). The detection limits for these light elements range up to ppb.

Conversely, EMPA offers finer spatial resolution and intermittent more precise quantitative analysis. However, it necessitates that samples be conductive, which may restrict the types of materials that can be analyzed.

The preparation process is more demanding, often requiring polishing and coating, thus making it more time-consuming, space inquiring, and additional devices necessary. Depending on the requirements, users need to select either Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (WDS) for higher spectral resolution or Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (EDS) for quicker data acquisition.

EMPA analyzers are requesting on the spaces in which they are placed. They require a clean laboratory environment where the influence of vibrations from the environment (e.g. from public transport) is eliminated and shielded from electromagnetism by a Faraday cage. LIBS is an inexpensive device that can be placed in a conventional laboratory facility or an industrial production hall. That means LIBS emerges as a clear winner in terms of economics when considering both capital expenses and operational expenses.

Highlighting the advancements in LIBS technology, AtomTrace’s Sci-Trace, and M-Trace exemplify the cutting-edge solutions available for immediate material composition insights. These examples underscore the efficiency and versatility of LIBS, making it a superior choice over EMPA for professionals in need of fast, accurate analysis without the extensive sample preparation and conductive sample requirements associated with EMPA.

In conclusion, while both LIBS and EMPA offer unique advantages for material analysis, the speed, ease of use, possibility to analyze light elements, minimal sample preparation and above all its substantial cost-effectiveness position LIBS as a superior analytical tool in many scenarios.
Professionals seeking efficient and effective analytical techniques are particularly encouraged to consider AtomTrace’s LIBS solutions, such as Sci-Trace and M-Trace, for their rapid and reliable material analysis needs.

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