Οn the 26th of July 2022 a prototype LIBS system developed by IESL-FORTH was delivered and installed in the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) labs in Mainz, Germany.
The system arrived in a humongous crate with almost as much packaging as instruments to keep it all together for the shipping from Crete and the long way on the truck from Athens to Mainz. It was installed by Dr Victor Pinon and Dr Panagiotis Siozos. Along with Andreas Lemonis, they have been essential in putting it together from the beginning and developed it from a slow and clumsy setup to the fast and efficient machine it is now. The first test runs on limpet shells by Dr Niklas Hausmann, SeaFront project leader and Danai Theodoraki , PhD candidate, showed how well the system works in its new environment.
It is an enormous step forward from the IESL-FORTH LIBS prototype, with a faster laser and a more accurate optical apparatus that works on lower energy, which makes the analysis faster and less destructive than before. We are still in the progress of getting accurate measurements of the dimensions of each sampling spot, but it looks like we moved from 50 µm down to 30 µm with the potential to go even lower using single-shot measurements. The LIBS system has a new user-friendly interface that can easily describe the sampling area of the shell. Shells can have quite complex sections, so an accurate control of where exactly the data comes from is of great importance.
The LIBS analysis on shells accurately and quickly determine repeating growth patterns, which is often in agreement with the annual growth increments. Moreover, LIBS determines prehistoric seasonality practices as well as biological age and growth at an improved rate and reduced cost than was previously achievable. Elemental mapping using LIBS will be the first step to understanding the shell’s growth structure and carrying out a more targeted analysis of δ18O isotopic values, later on, saving the Seafront group time and money (and nerves).