Laser system authenticates ceramic antiques at China's Beijing Antique City

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China's Beijing Antique City is using technology from Ocean Optics to separate authentic ceramic antiques from fakes. Nationally recognised antiques appraiser Guan Haisen employs an Ocean Optics LIBS system, with QE65000 spectrometer, to help him identify artificially aged ceramics and artefacts.

Ocean Optics' LIBS system uses a laser to 'burn' away a very tiny area (invisible to the naked eye) of the object under test, causing a plasma to form. The plasma is then analysed for the key elements of interest, such as chemicals used to simulate the process of aging. The entire test takes less than 30 seconds.

Currently, the ceramics examination industry in China relies heavily on the appraiser's knowledge and experience. LIBS analysis brings a level of technical accuracy to antique identification. Haisen uses LIBS to augment his extensive expertise and obtain the most accurate results. His goal is to make this type of scientific verification a standard practice.

In selecting a system for this relatively new application, the accuracy of the spectrometer and software were absolutely vital to Haisen. Portability and accuracy in the field were also important considerations as the appraiser often travels to the object rather than ship delicate items to the lab. In addition, Ocean Optics' flexibility enabled Haisen to design a new configuration of the LIBS system – basically an entirely new product specifically for his needs.

Ocean Optics LIBS systems are used in a wide variety of other applications, such as RoHS screening, gem origin determination, and elemental determinations in mixed powders.