Advantages, Risks, and Challenges: Applications of Portable LIBS for Field Archaeology

Apr 19, 2023
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About This Webinar
Instrument manufacturers have invested heavily in recent years to improve and expand their collection of portable measurement devices for use in both industrial and research applications. These tools are designed to provide data quickly and easily with little training and are often more affordable than their laboratory-based counterparts. They are also able to complete a significant number of analyses within a short period of time.

However, the effective and purposeful integration of these devices into archaeological research design is not as straight forward. Large quantities of data don’t necessarily lead to valid conclusions. Simply because something can be analyzed doesn’t mean it should be. The data that is collected must contribute to answering a specific research question.

Donais and the Saint Anselm College research team have used portable spectroscopy for field archaeology since 2008. Recently, they have added portable laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (pLIBS) to the mobile instrumental method toolbox. In this presentation, Donais discusses the challenges and pitfalls specific to pLIBS for field archaeology, as well as advantages to pairing it with other portable techniques. She will also share examples of recent research efforts specific to pLIBS.

*** This presentation premiered during the 2023 Photonics Spectra Spectroscopy Conference. For more information on Photonics Media conferences, visit

About the presenter

Mary Kate DonaisMary Kate Donais, Ph.D., earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bucknell University and a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Following positions at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and VG Elemental, she joined the faculty at Saint Anselm College in 1999 where she currently serves as a professor in the chemistry department.

Donais’ research is focused on spectroscopy and portable instrumentation, especially applications in the fields of archaeology and cultural heritage analysis. Her scholarship efforts include over twenty research articles, numerous conference presentations, two book chapters, and one co-authored book. Most of this research was conducted by the many undergraduate students she has advised in her 20-plus years in academics.

She is actively involved with the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (SAS), the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies, and the Society for Archaeological Sciences. Donais is a fellow of the SAS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. She is currently serving as the Barbara Stahl Fellow in Science and the Humanities.
spectroscopyportable LIBSlaser induced breakdown spectroscopyarchaeology
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