Investigation of polarization effects for nanosecond laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy

M. E. Asgill, H. Y. Moon, N. Omenetto, D. W. Hahn

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20 Scopus citations


The spectral and temporal polarization dependencies of nanosecond laser-induced plasmas are explored for analysis of gaseous and solid samples using various experimental configurations. Plasma emission measurements were resolved into vertical and horizontal polarization components, and the ratio of the two polarization-resolved measurements was calculated for each sample and configuration. For the solid target, measurements were recorded with the sample oriented both normal to the incident laser beam as well as at oblique angles of incidence. The results for the breakdown of a pure, nitrogen gaseous sample revealed no degree of polarization in either the continuum or atomic emission, with the ratios of the horizontally-to-vertically resolved plasma emission showing values equal to unity when resolved both temporally and spectrally. The analysis of both copper and steel solid samples also showed no polarization dependency in the spectral and temporal data when the laser was incidentally normal to the sample surface. For oblique angles of incidence, some polarization (< 10%) was observed within the first tens of nanoseconds of plasma lifetime. The polarization was manifested as a slight reduction in the horizontal component of plasma emission, but significantly, the observed polarization was found to be spectrally flat, with no difference observed between continuum and atomic emission features. The small polarization effect was found to diminish with plasma residence time, effectively vanishing by about 1 μs following breakdown. The transient polarization is hypothesized to arise from reflection effects (i.e. Fresnel reflectivity) between the plasma light and the solid target surface present with oblique angles of incidence for reflected light, with temporal effects due to the dynamic nature of the plasma development and plasma-surface interactions. Overall, no evidence was found to support any inherent anisotropy or polarization specific to the plasma continuum or the atomic emission for the transitions studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1040
Number of pages8
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Fresnel reflectivity
  • Gated detection
  • Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
  • Observation geometry
  • Polarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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