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Aluminum Metal Identification with Portable LIBS Instrument

Posted on: October 20th, 2020

The metal sorting industry relies heavily on metal identification methods such as LIBS to sort metal. Metals, such as Aluminum 1100 and Aluminum 6063 can be challenging to identify without LIBS. In this experiment, we will test several types of metal and identify them based on their spectral lines.

Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) is a type of atomic emission spectroscopy which uses a highly energetic laser pulse as the excitation source. The laser is focused to form a plasma, which atomizes and excites samples. The formation of plasma begins when the focused laser achieves a certain threshold for optical breakdown. This can be performed on any state of matter as all elements emit light of characteristic frequencies when excited to sufficiently high temperatures.

Conducted by: David Ademe, Avantes Inc.

System Description

The setup for this experiment incorporates the Falcon Laser, courtesy of Lumibird, and the Avantes AvaSpec-Mini spectrometer into a single, compact package. The spectrometer is mounted directly to the laser, with a short fiber connected to the Mini, with the receiving end lined up with the focal point of the laser to acquire LIBS spectra. The AvaSpec-Mini used in this experiment is optimized for the UV range.

The new generation, our AvaSpec-Mini MK-II series (AvaSpec-Mini2048CL and AvaSpec-Mini4096CL) is definitely one of the smallest types of spectrometers on the market today. In cases where size matters, the AvaSpec CompactLine family offers spectrometers with the smallest form factor. This enables easier integration of our spectrometers into machines and handheld devices. Squeezing down the size hardly compromises the performance of the instruments, but limits the customer a bit in the number of possible configurations. Customization is possible when adequate volumes are needed. This makes the CompactLine especially suited for OEM users wanting to integrate a spectrometer into their own devices. The AvaSpec-Mini-CL series can be equipped with a 2048 pixel CMOS detector or our first-to-the-market 4096-pixel array. Enjoy the speed and enhanced native UV/NIR response of CMOS with an incredible resolution of up to 0.09 nm unavailable anywhere else. The low stray light design allows stray light levels from as low as 0.2% and the fast response time boasts data transfer speeds as fast as 4.6 ms/scan and integration times ranging from 30 µs to 50 s.

From Lumibird, the Falcon laser series was built for rugged applications and unpredictable environments where temperature and vibration would destroy most commercial lasers. A proprietary design, the Falcon provides eye-safe wavelengths in a compact yet robust package. Designed for battery operation in hand-held and mobile applications, this DPSS Nd:YAG laser features maintenance free operation for years of hard use.

Metal Identification Methodology

For this experiment, the spectrometer was mounted to the laser. Using serial commands, we were successfully able to fire the laser. Once the laser began firing, data was collected through the LIBS module in AvaSoft. The LIBS module allows the user to configure a number of settings, such as the ability to sync the spectrometer scans with the laser pulses.

Test Data and Results

The following images show the metal identification LIBS data from the samples that were tested: AL 1100, AL 6063 and Copper.

Aluminum Identification Analysis

Comparing the collected data with a known LIBS database, these samples are emitting spectra as expected. One of the defining traits of differentiating AL 1100 and AL 6063 is the magnesium peak, which can not be done in x-ray methods of identification. These magnesium peaks can be found between 279 nm and 280 nm in AL 6063, but not AL 1100. As the following screenshot displays, these peaks do appear when comparing our AL 1100 and AL 6063 spectra.


The AvaSpec-Mini, in combination with the Falcon Laser, provide an excellent package for handheld LIBS applications, capable of obtaining extremely accurate and reliable data. If you would like to demo the setup or have your samples tested to see how the setup can benefit your LIBS applications, please contact your Avantes representative.

Download the Spectral Data

More about LIBS from Avantes

On-Demand Webinar & eBook

Handheld LIBS System Design Webinar

Webinar discussing hardware and performance considerations in handheld LIBS system design and present example of a portable LIBS system with integrated AvaSpec-Mini spectrometer and Lumibird laser


Application Note

Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy in the Physical Sciences

This application paper explores numerous applications for laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy in the physical sciences

Read the Application Paper

Portable LIBS Test Kit demo

Portable LIBS Test Kit

Speak with an Avantes sales engineer today to reserve the test kit through the exclusive Avantes test drive program. This is ideal for feasibility testing or proof of concept demonstrations in your product development process.

Demo the Portable LIBS Test Kit

Demo the Portable LIBS System

We are so confident about our instruments, we want you to test them for yourself. Reserve your test drive through the exclusive Avantes demo program now