A laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system using a microchip laser for plasma generation is proposed for in-situ analysis of trace minerals in human hair. The LIBS system is more compact and less expensive than conventional LIBS systems, which use flashlamp-excited Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers. Focusing optics were optimized using a Galilean beam expander to compensate for the low emitted pulse energy of the microchip laser. Additionally, hundreds of generated LIBS spectra were accumulated to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the measurement system, and argon gas was injected at the irradiation point to enhance plasma intensity. LIBS spectra of human hair in the UV to near IR regions were investigated. Relative mass concentrations of Ca, Mg, and Zn were analyzed in hairs obtained from five subjects using the intensity of C as a reference. The results coincide well with those measured via inductively coupled argon plasma mass spectrometry. The lowest detectable concentrations of the measured LIBS spectra were 9.0 ppm for Mg, 27 ppm for Zn, and 710 ppm for Ca. From these results, we find that the proposed LIBS system based on a microchip laser is feasible for the analysis of trace minerals in human hair.
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