Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science

First Advisor's Name

Jose Almirall

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Anthony De Caprio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Piero Gardinali

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Taggants, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Elemental Analysis, LIBS, Rare Earth Elements

Date of Defense



Chemical taggants impart a unique imprint on an object so that, if stolen, the ownership or original source of the object can be unambiguously identified. A commercially available tagging system from SmartWater® Technology Ltd. utilizes a polymer-based solution that solidifies upon application and contains a unique combination of up to 27 rare-earth elements as the chemical identification system. Currently, Laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is used as the primary means to determine the presence/absence of these elements. This current study investigates the use of a commercial laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system as an alternative detection method due to its ease of use and cost effectiveness. LIBS was able to discriminate between 18 and 19 elements using nanosecond-Nd:YAG 266 nm and 1064 nm lasers, respectively, at the concentrations present in the quality control (QC) solution. No elements could be identified once the QC solution was diluted by a factor of 10.





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