Abstract

This report presents the results of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) study on biological and food samples of high water content using a picosecond (ps) laser at low output energy of 10 mJ and low-pressure helium ambient gas at 2 kPa. Evidence of excellent emission spectra of various analyte elements with very low background is demonstrated for a variety of samples without the need of sample pretreatment. Specifically, limits of detection in the range of sub-ppm are obtained for hazardous Pb and B impurities in carrots and meatballs. This study also shows the inferior performance of LIBS using a nanosecond laser and atmospheric ambient air for a soft sample of high water content and thereby explains its less successful applications in previous attempts. The present result has instead demonstrated the feasibility and favorable results of employing LIBS with a ps laser and low-pressure helium ambient gas as a less costly and more practical alternative to inductively coupled plasma for regular high sensitive inspection of harmful food preservatives and environmental pollutants.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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