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Determination of Nitrogen in Sand Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

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The use of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to detect a variety of elements in soils has been demonstrated and instruments have been developed to facilitate these measurements. The ability to determine nitrogen in soil is also important for applications ranging from precision farming to space exploration. For terrestrial use, the ideal situation is for measurements to be conducted in the ambient air, thereby simplifying equipment requirements and speeding the analysis. The high concentration of nitrogen in air, however, is a complicating factor for soil nitrogen measurements. Here we present the results of a study of LIBS detection of nitrogen in sand at atmospheric and reduced pressures to evaluate the method for future applications. Results presented include a survey of the nitrogen spectrum to determine strong N emission lines and determination of measurement precision and a detection limit for N in sand (0.8% by weight). Our findings are significantly different from those of a similar study recently published regarding the detection of nitrogen in soil.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Group NMT-15, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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