Matthieu Baudelet Joins Spectroscopy's Editorial Advisory Board
Spectroscopy is pleased to announce the addition of Matthieu Baudelet, PhD, to its editorial advisory board.
Baudelet is an assistant research professor of optics in the Laser and Plasma Laboratory in the Townes Laser Institute
in the College of Optics and Plasma at the University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida). He graduated from the University
of Lille (France) in 2003, with a B.S. in physics, starting his career in spectroscopy with Fourier transform microwave spectroscopy.
In 2005, he received his M.S. in lasers and spectroscopy from the University of Lyon (France), and completed his PhD in the
Laboratoire de SpectromÉtrie Ionique et MolÉculaire (Lasim, Lyon), working on laser-induced plasma and spectroscopic analysis
under the direction of Jin Yu.
In his doctoral research, Baudelet demonstrated the advantages of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for biological
sensing and food monitoring, publishing articles on the use of femtosecond pulses to improve this technique, and the development
of analytical techniques to understand and extract the maximum amount of information from the LIBS spectra of bacteria.
Today, Baudelet continues his research on laser spectroscopy and sensing for the Townes Laser Institute. His work covers
the fundamentals of laser-induced plasmas, the application of laser spectroscopies such as LIBS, fluorescence, Raman, and
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy as fundamental diagnostics. He also studies sensing techniques for defense, industrial,
environmental, and biomedical applications, and the propagation of ultrashort laser pulses for sensing purposes at distances
up to the kilometer range.
Baudelet currently is studying the fundamentals of laser spectroscopy for atomic and molecular spectroscopy, with applications
including plasma diagnostics, quantitative analysis, and sensing in tabletop and integrated configurations for stand-off detection.
Spectroscopy and the Search for Second Genesis on Mars
The goal of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) missions to Mars is not just to look for signs of life.
It is to look for signs of a second genesis — life that formed independently of life on Earth. In a plenary talk at the 2012
SciX conference, Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Laboratory, explained how this search is unfolding, including
the important role of spectroscopic instruments, such as the laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument on the
Curiosity rover — the current mission on Mars.
A key advantage of LIBS for planetary science, said McKay, is that it is a noncontact method and thus does not require
collecting samples. On Earth, scooping up dirt for samples is easy. But on other planets, with all of the equipment being
operated remotely from Earth, it's a multistep process. NASA scientists have to position the rover — which usually takes two
command cycles — then position the scoop, take a scoop of soil, confirm there is soil in the scoop, and bring it back to the
instrument. All of that takes about a week. Also, the dirt is often sticky and clumpy. "On the Phoenix mission, the soil clogged
up and wouldn't go through the filters into the mass spectrometer," said McKay. "Operators shook the rover to try to get the
soil into the filter, and that created an electrical short."
Because LIBS has this advantage of being a noncontact method, it was the first analytical instrument used on Mars, before
the rover even moved. "It showed the power of being able to conduct analyses while sitting still and shooting a laser," said
McKay. Given this capability, the main purpose of the LIBS instrument will be to select samples for the more sophisticated
and difficult-to-operate instruments that do organic analysis and mineralogy.
In spite of the excitement over the LIBS debut on Mars, however, McKay said there are still questions to be worked out.
"The atmosphere on Mars is different from the atmosphere on Earth in terms of pressure and composition, and that affects the
LIBS spectra," he explained. "So we are comparing the LIBS spectra with spectra from traditional Mars instruments like X-ray
fluorescence [XRF], trying to get a handle on how best to use this instrument."
Sampling differences between LIBS and XRF must also be considered. The LIBS instrument generates a spectrum from five tiny
sample spots on a rock surface. The XRF instrument used previously analyzed a much larger area, and a raster of the XRF sample
revealed variations in the rock sample. "So our first task is to integrate this new instrument into our understanding of the
mineralogy of rocks on Mars," said McKay. "And it's not trivial."