Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is able to rapidly analyze the constituents of materials without contact under atmospheric conditions. Hence this method is predestined to applications where processes have to be controlled for various compounds. Current research activities aim to improve the limits of detection of LIBS for multi-element analysis. The influence of the laser pulse structure on the emission of the laser-induced plasma is investigated. Using certified reference samples, LIBS is calibrated to perform concentration measurements of elements in an iron matrix. An overview of recent LIBS applications is given.© (1994) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.