On January 10, 2005, a batch of 20 gems was tested for beryllium by the scientist involved in the development of the ocean Optics' LIBS-2000+ system. Test results: 17 out of the 20 samples were identified correctly, 3 samples failed the test including one sample where beryllium was detected at 234nm (instead of the 313nm). One sample broke into 3 pieces. That's about 15%-20% error tolerance which matches the error tolerance of my previous LIBS tests performed at the Applied Photonics (Skipton, UK) LIBS lab.The results of the new tests are also in direct contradiction with the conclusions made by Dr. Hanni et al, the marketers of LIBS, who are avoiding the "error tolerance" issue on the Be-treated corundums and misleading the gemological community.
On a related article "A New Method for Detecting Be-DiffusionTreated Sapphires: LIBS" by Dr.Hanni et al, published in the G&G Winter 2004 issue, the authors never recognized or gave any reference to my pioneer work published in the Australian Gemmologist (Vol. 22, Number 4, Oct.-Dec. 2004) "LIBS: A Spark of Inspiration in Gemmological Instrumentation" which marked the first published account on the subject. Dr.Hanni et al have declared war on my work exercising pressure to trade organizations and to the members of the gemmological community trying to discredit my work. The industry should remember that the LIBS method testing for beryllium in corundum is strongly indicative, not conclusive. More bitter juice is expected.
GEMOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS OF LIBS: Examination of stones tested with LIBS by Applied Photonics (UK) and Ocean Optics (USA) are provided in my gem treatment training course.
PURCHASING LIBS: LIBS configurations are readily available on the market for as low as US$48K. Click http://www.oceanoptics.com for more information and pricing. Special LIBS equipment for detecting only beryllium in corundum may be assembled by knowledgeable individuals using OEM parts. Special attention should be given to the type of laser used and a new "targeting" methods should be devised. The cost ranges from US$20K to US$40K+. Future buyers should attend LIBS conferences and trade shows to meet the real LIBS experts.
LIBS CONFERENCE: Read the proceedings of the LIBS-2004 Conference (Sept. 29 to Oct.1 2004) in Malaga, Spain. Click http://www.uma.es/libs to read more on the subject. Next LIBS conference: Sept. 2005 in Aachen (Germany). Check the Internet for LIBS regional trade shows and seminars.
MORE on LIBS: A paper on LIBS and its applications in gemology was presented by Ted Themelis at the International Gemmological Conference in Wuhan,China, Sept 12-18 2004 and published in the IGC proceedings.
UPDATE (June 25, 2009): After several years working the LIBS, the major commercial lab do not rely soley on the LIBS test results, though never admited, discussed or announced the issue. For instance, the AGTA lab bought a LIBS system through a grant provided by the JCK (why the JCK gave the money to AGTA-GTL is another inside story), but to this time the LIBS cannot provide reliable results. Again, my conclusions on the research work on LIBS were correct. LIBS method testing for beryllium in corundum is strongly indicative, not conclusive. Hanni owes me an apology and those naive gem traders who submit their stones for LIBS testing do not get the clear picture of the situation. Meanwhile, nobody offered me help to recover my US$10,000 I spent on the LIBS research project for the benefit of this industry.