Niton Apollo Handheld LIBS Analyzer FAQs

The Thermo Scientific Niton Apollo handheld LIBS analyzer delivers fast, accurate, portable elemental analysis – including carbon detection – for material verification. Browse our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about the Niton Apollo.

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A: LIBS is an acronym for Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, which is an analytical chemistry technique used for quantitative elemental analysis. LIBS technology uses a tightly focused laser to ablate the surface of a sample to form a plasma. The plasma, which then atomizes and excites the sample, emits light that is transmitted through fiber optics and enters the spectrometer through a slit. The light then interacts with a diffraction grating and splits the light into its component wavelengths. The detector produces a spectrum from the sample which can be analyzed, and the concentration of each element determined.

Learn more about how LIBS works ›

A: The Niton Apollo is powered by a class 3b laser and provides results in about 10 seconds.

A: Because the Niton Apollo emits a class 3b laser, exposure to the eyes or skin may cause injury if improperly used. A number of safety engineering controls have been developed to significantly reduce the risk of injury. However, to ensure an abundance of caution, laser safety eyewear is recommended. Appropriate eyewear for use with the Niton Apollo must be rated with an optical density of 5 or greater at 1064nm (OD 5 @ 1064nm). These specifications should be printed directly on the eyewear.

A: Care should be taken when operating any device that contains a laser. The Niton Apollo is committed to user safety and employs three (3) robust safety interlocks to protect operators and bystanders from accidental exposure to laser radiation.

Pressure- Determines whether the analyzer has made a complete seal on a sample by measuring the argon pressure in the sample chamber. Appropriate levels of pressure are required to allow the laser to fire. If the sample is removed mid-analysis the loss of pressure signals the laser to shut down.

Camera- Works by monitoring light and darkness in the sample chamber. If the chamber is dark, it is an indication that a sample is present, enabling the laser to fire. If the analyzer detects light, software will notify the laser to shut down.

Sensor- In the unlikely event that the laser fires without a sample present, software detects the absence of spectral data and shuts down the laser in a fraction of a second after one laser pulse. 

A: Any user operating the Niton Apollo, should take the affiliated Niton Apollo safety training. The training is approximately 20-30 minutes long, and covers laser safety, safe use principals, battery safety and safe handling of argon cartridges.

Additionally, a courtesy installation training is offered upon receiving your analyzer. Users can expect to learn more about setup, instrument operations and reporting.

Take the Niton Apollo safety training ›

A: In order to achieve the best analytical performance, sample preparation is required on the Niton Apollo. The Niton Apollo generates results by reading the surface of a sample. Miscellaneous matter, such as plating, lubricants, paint, rust, dust or fingerprints must be removed to ensure accurate results. Performing sample preparation removes surface impurities to provide precise material chemistry.

Learn more about sample preparation ›

A: The Niton Apollo is available with the following modes:

Low Alloy / Carbon Steel- Measure carbon and carbon equivalency in low alloy and carbon steel.
Stainless Steel- Measure carbon included in L and H grades of stainless steel.

A: Oil and Gas- For positive material identification (PMI) of piping, pressure vessels, valves, pumps, and finished welds, or to grade unknown materials to regain traceability. Measuring silicon in steel for sulfidic corrosion or residual elements in HF Alkylation process components.

Metal Fabrication- For quality control and quality assurance (QA/QC) of incoming materials and outgoing finished goods. To calculate carbon equivalency by measuring the contribution of specific elements for steel composition and signifying an equivalent level of hardenability.

Scrap Metal Recycling- For fast and accurate sorting of scrap metals, which is essential to enhance both workflow efficiency and profitability.

A: Yes, the Niton Apollo is capable of quantifying carbon in all iron-based alloys and carbon steels.

The Niton Apollo detects the following elements: Carbon (C), Aluminum (Al), Silicon (Si), Titanium (Ti), Vanadium (V), Chromium (Cr), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Cobalt (Co), Nickel (Ni), Copper (Cu), Niobium (Nb), Molly (Mo), and Tungsten (W).

A: The Niton Apollo contains a hot swappable battery powered by a Milwaukee™ M18™ Redlithium™ High Demand™ CP2.0 Battery Pack. The analyzer comes equipped with two (2) Milwaukee batteries, with one battery pack lasting four (4) hours for a total use time of eight (8) hours.

A: Handheld LIBS and XRF are best thought of as complimentary technologies. When used together, users can expect to measure a greater range of elements. For example, LIBS can detect lighter elements, such as carbon (C), that handheld XRF is unable to. Handheld XRF is considered non-destructive, while LIBS is minimally destructive. More user maintenance is required for LIBS such as instrument cleaning, sample preparation and daily setup, whereas XRF requires little upkeep and is best summarized as “point and shoot”.

A: While both handheld LIBS and mobile OES provide quantitative analysis, there are a number of key differences to consider.

Operation- Mobile OES applies electrical energy in the form of a spark generated between an electrode and a sample. Analysis is achieved by exciting atoms in the plasma to create an emission spectrum specific to each element. LIBS on the other hand uses a high energy pulsed laser to ablate a sample. The sample forms a plasma with a plume where various atomic and ionic emission lines can be observed and analyzed.

Portability- Handheld LIBS easily and safely travels with a user for various tasks where mobile OES can be difficult to deploy. The Niton Apollo is equipped with a pistol-grip design and tapered nose to access hard to reach places. Including the battery, the Niton Apollo weighs 6.4 lbs. (2.9 kg.). Conversely mobile OES can weigh upwards of 40 lbs. (18.15 kg.) and is mounted to a cart containing a hose, making the total range of motion extremely limited. When factoring in the argon tank required to accompany mobile OES, users can expect to add up to an additional 50 lbs. (22.67 kg.). Total mobile OES solutions can weigh upwards of ~90 lbs. (40.82 kg.) depending on the size of the argon tank. The argon output on the Niton Apollo has been significantly miniaturized to further aid portability- it contains an internal regulator accepting one (1) argon cartridge weighing less than 14 oz. (396.89 gr.).

Analysis Time- Analysis time on the Niton Apollo takes about 10 seconds compared to about 15 seconds on mobile OES.

Instrument Setup- The Niton Apollo is delivered pre-calibrated from the factory. To maintain the device, users must perform daily setup procedures to help normalize the analyzer. Daily setup takes less than 10 minutes and includes the following: 1) Wave Check- must receive one pass reading of a provided check sample, and 2) Sensitivity Check- must obtain “pass” readings of all check samples for each mode. Daily setup for mobile OES can take upwards of 20-30 minutes and consists of several complex steps.  

A: The Niton Apollo uses an argon cartridge to produce an argon purge that enhances the signal (sensitivity) of the analyzer. The argon purge serves to ensure that the lowest limits of detection (LODs) are obtained. Thermo Scientific Analytical Argon cartridges are sold in boxes of five (5) and twenty-five (25) with one (1) cartridge lasting about 200 measurements.

A: The Niton Apollo provides results in about 10 seconds.

A: Users do have the ability to average readings on the Niton Apollo. Operators can take anywhere from 2 to 99 readings and average the readings to create a new mean reading.

A: Yes, users can remotely export readings to their network share. Once a connection is established users can manually or automatically export a CSV file to their network share and bypass steps associated with data extraction using NitonConnect.

A: Regular maintenance is vital to ensuring the Niton Apollo produces the most analytically accurate outcomes. Maintenance includes daily setup procedures, instrument cleaning and annual calibration certification.

Daily Set-Up Procedures- serve to normalize the analyzer and include a wave and sensitivity check. It is recommended that one be completed every eight (8) hour shift.

Instrument Cleaning- removes metal particles from the optic windows to prevent the possibility of signal throughput becoming degraded. It is recommended that instrument cleaning be performed every 1,000 readings. Learn more about instrument cleaning.

Annual Calibration Certification- your analyzer comes back to the factory for inspection by our certified technicians. Our team verifies the analytical performance of your analyzer- if necessary, it will be re-calibrated to ensure proper functionality. You will also obtain a certificate (good for one year) stating that your calibration is in proper working order.

A: At this time, the Niton Apollo supports English only. Additional languages will be added in the future. Be sure to check back frequently as we make continuous updates to the Niton Apollo.

A: The Niton Apollo is IP54 certified, meaning that it is sealed against moisture and dust. The splash and dust proof design ensure uninterrupted operation and worry-free use virtually anywhere.

A: In addition to your Niton Apollo analyzer, a number of materials accompany your instrument purchase, including:

  • Locking shielded carrying case
  • Two (2) Milwaukee® M18™ Redlithium™ High Demand™ CP2.0 Battery Packs
  • One (1) Milwaukee® M18™ & M12™ Multi-Voltage Charger
  • Thermo Scientific™ analytical argon
  • Setup standards
  • Laser safety glasses
  • Instrument cleaning kit
  • Safety lanyard and carabiner
  • PC connection cable

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