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The Evolving Role of Chemometrics in LIBS Imaging: A Scholarly Exploration

Dernière mise à jour : 4 oct. 2023


Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) has evolved from a technique primarily for physicists to an indispensable tool in analytical chemistry. With applications ranging from material characterization to Martian exploration, LIBS imaging has garnered significant attention in scientific research. However, as the technology advances, so does the complexity and volume of the data it generates. This brings us to the critical role of chemometrics in LIBS imaging—a subject that merits scholarly attention.

The Historical Trajectory

Originally developed for spectroscopic measurement systems, LIBS has transitioned into a robust analytical chemistry technique. Its applications have permeated the industrial world and have become a cornerstone in scientific research. The technique's historical evolution is not just a testament to its versatility but also an indicator of its future potential.

Technical Advancements in LIBS Imaging

Modern LIBS imaging systems can acquire datasets containing more than 10 million pixels in just a few hours. These datasets have a high dynamic range, allowing for the detection of elements at varying concentrations, from percent to ppm levels. Such advancements have not only expanded the scope of LIBS imaging but have also posed new challenges in data processing and interpretation.

The Univariate vs. Multivariate Conundrum

Traditionally, researchers have relied on univariate methods for data analysis in LIBS imaging. While these methods are straightforward, they often lead to biased results due to their inherent limitations. The review article from Gardette et al., Anal. Chem., 2023 advocates for a shift towards multivariate chemometric tools, which can exploit the full spectrum of data and offer a more nuanced understanding of the samples under investigation.

Chemometric Tools in LIBS Imaging

Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

PCA is often considered the Swiss Army knife of spectral data processing. It is a multivariate tool that uses all the wavelengths of the spectral domain of interest to extract principal components, thereby expressing the variances contained in the spectra.

Clustering Methods

Clustering techniques like k-means and hierarchical k-means offer another approach to unsupervised analysis. These methods group spectra by similarities, allowing for the spatial locations of these clusters to be mapped in the sample region of interest.

Regression Methods

Regression methods like Partial Least Squares (PLS) aim to predict concentrations of elements from spectra. However, their application in LIBS imaging is limited due to the challenges in obtaining reference concentrations.

Emerging Areas: Signal Unmixing and Neural Networks

Signal unmixing techniques like Multivariate Curve Resolution-Alternating Least Squares (MCR-ALS) offer both qualitative and quantitative insights. On the other hand, neural networks, particularly deep learning models like Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN), are beginning to make their mark in the field.

Future Prospects and Research Impact

The increasing complexity and volume of LIBS imaging data necessitate the development of advanced chemometric tools. Open-access codes and software could accelerate this evolution, contributing to the broader scientific community's understanding of this technology.


Chemometrics in LIBS imaging is an evolving field that promises to revolutionize our understanding of complex samples. As we move towards an era of big data and interdisciplinary research, the role of chemometrics will only become more critical, warranting scholarly attention and rigorous academic inquiry.

This blogpost resumes the complete chapter on #Chemometrics for #LIBS in the following review :

A review on LIBS imaging for material and biomedical applications
LIBS imaging Review Chemometrics
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