Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Audio Spot: Spectrometer can instantly analyze chemical content of materials

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 23, 2005 — A new instrument that can instantly identify the chemical contents of a material or human bones, detect counterfeit money or verify authentic artwork may soon help unlock mysteries from bio-technology to crime solving.

Madhavi Martin, a researcher in the Environmental Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said the Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy for Materials Forensics Applications can be taken anywhere to conduct quick analysis.

"We can take any sample from the field, like a soil sample, plant - even wet plants - and bring them to the lab or even take our instrument to the field and be able to just zap it with a laser beam and be able to detect all the elements," Martin said.

Martin added the spectrometer can assist workers at nuclear power plants.

"You can go into a nuclear reactor and actually see what the contaminants are on the walls, which has never been done before," Madhavi said.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.