This paper reports the development of a compact and portable actively Q-switched Nd:YAG laser and its applications in laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). The laser was end-pumped by a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL). The cavity lases at a wavelength of 1064 nm and produced pulses of 16 ns with a maximum pulse energy of 12.9 mJ. The laser exhibits a reliable performance in terms of pulse-to-pulse stability and timing jitter. The LIBS experiments were carried out using this laser on NIST standard alloy samples. Shot-to-shot LIBS signal stability, crater profile, time evolution of emission spectra, plasma electron density and temperature, and limits of detection were studied and reported in this paper. The test results demonstrate that the VCSEL-pumped solid-state laser is an effective and compact laser tool for laser remote sensing applications.
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