Los Alamos National LaboratorySensorNexus
Our sensor capabilities working for your solutions

Chemical Applications

Chemical sensors in action, solutions for you.

Chemical Capabilities—for Collaboration

View our capability sheets: get details of what we do.

How we deploy innovation

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Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is a versatile method used to determine the elemental composition of liquids, solids, and gases. Advances in LIBS technology are, in part, the product of 30 years of development in the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos.

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Space and Remote Sensing scientists Roger Wiens (left) and Bruce Barraclough test the ChemCam instrument in a Los Alamos clean room. Los Alamos has developed applications of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for a range of uses: mining, manufacturing, nuclear forensics, oil pipe analysis, agriculture, and, most well known, space applications.

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NASA selected Los Alamos to develop an instrument called ChemCam base on LIBS laser–induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). This instrument fires a laser to determine the elemental composition of rocks from a distance of up to about 25 feet. ChemCam is currently on board the Mars rover to evaluate the Red Planet’s soil and rocks. NASA has selected ChemCam’s successor, called SuperCam, for a new Mars mission in 2020.

Click on the circles above to see our stages of innovation.

Click on the circles above to see how we build on our decades of discovery science to find 21st century solutions.

Ways we can help you find solutions

Working at the intersection of chemistry, computation, and engineering, scientists at Los Alamos use their expertise in chemistry, surveillance systems, and robotics to create faster detection platforms, enhance threat characterization, and improve comparative analysis for response.

Foundational science

  • Radiochemistry, actinides, and nuclear science
  • Isotope science
  • Synthetic and mechanistic chemistry
  • Measurement and detection science
  • Data analysis and modeling
  • Chemical forensics and signature science

Enabling technologies

  • Synthetic materials and catalysts
  • Radioisotope production
  • Radiological signatures
  • Mass spectrometry for elemental and isotopic signatures
  • Instrumentation for biological and chemical detection
  • Remote sensing
  • Nanotechnology and advanced spectroscopy
  • Elemental imaging and mapping
  • Safeguards measurements


To take a closer look at Los Alamos sensor capabilities, follow the links under "Chemical Capabilities for Collaboration" above. This is only a small sampling of what is available, so please email SensorNexus for an in-depth discussion of available technologies!

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Bring your complex problem to us

Are you trying to

  • create a faster detection platform?
  • enhance threat characterization?
  • improve comparative analysis?
  • or something else beyond your reach?

Whatever your challenge, Los Alamos can partner with you to answer basic science questions, confirm results—even design and test products.

With a multidisciplinary approach encompassing biology, chemistry, computation, and engineering, we can provide crucial expertise and technologies at any stage of your product development.

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