This page provides a brief summary of highlights from each year since the company's formation in 1998


  • New product range launched – a unique design modular LIBS system (LIBSCAN, LIBS-6 and LIBS-8) providing the user with a highly versatile, adaptable and upgradeable product.
  • Gen 5 Stand-Off LIBS system delivered to US Army Research Laboratory (Aberdeen Proving Ground) in April 2009.
  • Andrew Whitehouse gave an invited talk at NASLIBS 2009 (New Orleans, July 2009) and exhibited APL’s LIBSCAN product at the conference trade fair.
  • Delivery of two submersible LIBS probe systems (LIBSProbe 100) – one to the UK nuclear industry for in-situ characterisation of materials within redundant spent-fuel storage ponds, and the other for to a research group interested in developing LIBS for a sub-sea application.
LIBSCAN system
LIBSCAN system

LIBS-6 module
LIBS-6 module


  • Continued participation in Guardian Angel project, with Andrew Whitehouse spending extended periods in the USA contributing to field trials at Fort Irwin (May) and Yuma Proving Ground (July / August). Project completed in August and regarded as a significant and positive achievement by representatives of JIEDDO.
  • Design of Gen 5 ST-LIBS modified and improved via lessons learned while conducting field trials of Gen 4 during Guardian Angel project. This extended the timescales for delivery of Gen 5 to early 2009.
  • Andrew I. Whitehouse attended an Experts' Meeting at IAEA (Vienna) in July (IAEA preparatory paper: , UKAEA progress report:, APL presentation:).
Gen 5
Gen 5 ST-LIBS: Ruggedised double-pulse ST-LIBS system with 200 metre range capability


  • Completed DTI-funded R&D project "Stand-Off LIBS/Raman" (Final report:).
  • On behalf of US Army Research Laboratory and in collaboration with Ameasol Inc (Santa Fe, NM), commenced design and build project for a ruggedised Stand-Off LIBS system with 100 metre range capability (later to be known as Generation 5 ST-LIBS).
  • Participated in JIEDDO-funded project "Guardian Angel" (lead contractor: BAE Systems Inc) in collaboration with A3 Technologies Inc (Maryland, USA) and US Army Research Laboratory (Aberdeen, MD). APL supplied a custom-design field-deployable ST-LIBS system (Generation 4) which was first deployed at National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California during December 2007.
  • Attended meetings and presentations at IAEA (Vienna) on potential use of LIBS in nuclear safeguards. Meeting organised by the Novel Technologies group within IAEA Safeguards. Andrew I. Whitehouse later nominated as UK expert on LIBS representing UKAEA Safeguards.
Dr Andy Whitehouse, IAEA, Vienna
Dr Andy Whitehouse at IAEA, Vienna (July 2007)


  • Delivered and commissioned Gen 2 ST-LIBS system at US Army Research Laboratory (Feb 2006) (see ST-LIBS Projects page
  • Delivered and commissioned Gen 3 ST-LIBS system at US Army Research Laboratory (July 2006) (see ST-LIBS Projects page
  • Commenced DTI-funded R&D project "Stand-Off LIBS/Raman" with the aim of developing an experimental prototype ST-LIBS/Raman system for remote detection of explosive residues.
  • Supplied hardware and software for upgrading an exhibit at the National Space Centre
Gen 3
Gen 3 ST-LIBS: "Eye-safe" laser beam (1543 nm) produced by a methane gas Raman shifter pumped with a Nd:YAG laser


  • A.I. Whitehouse gave a presentation at a NATO meeting on Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) techniques, held at NATO HQ, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, in April 2005 (Presentation: ).
  • Completed 2nd phase of International Secondment to Venn Group Inc (Santa Fe, NM, USA) (Secondment report: ).
  • Designed and manufactured of Gen 1 and Gen 2 ST-LIBS prototypes for US Army Research Laboratory in collaboration with Ocean Optics Inc.
  • Completed DTI-funded R&D project "Woodsort" (Final report: ).
  • Designed and manufactured four High-Temperature Pressure Vessel Reactors for Nexia Solutions Ltd.
  • Provided a new laboratory service for detecting beryllium in sapphires (Web article).
Dr Andy Whitehouse with the Gen 1 and Gen 2 systems
Gen 1 and Gen 2 ST-LIBS systems being commissioned at US Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground (February 2005)


  • Commenced R&D project funded by DTI and titled "Woodsort" to develop a technology demonstrator system to prove feasibility of using LIBS to segregate CCA preservative treated wood from untreated wood.
  • Completed 1st phase International Secondment to BNFL Instrumenst Inc (Santa Fe, NM, USA) (Secondment report - Dr Jim Young: , Secondment report - Dr Andy Whitehouse: ).
  • Participated in a NATO-funded technical demonstration of Stand-Off LIBS for remote detection of explosive residues conducted in the Arizona desert, in December 2004. The team consisted of groups from University of Malaga, Ocean Optics Inc, Applied Photonics Ltd, and US Army Research Laboratory (Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
Technical demonstration of stand-off LIBS at Yuma Proving Ground
NATO-funded technical demonstration of ST-LIBS, during field trials in Arizona (December 2004)


  • During February, deployed a LIBSCAN instrument at a High-Level Waste plant at BNFL's Sellafield site to remotely determine the elemental composition of a number of samples of HLW residues.
  • Andrew Whitehouse presented a talk on the use of LIBSCAN to remotely analyse HLW at two conferences held in the USA - Waste Management '03 (Tucson, Arizona) (Presentation: ) and The International High Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference (Las Vegas, Nevada) (Presentation: ).
  • Andrew Whitehouse and Jim Young visited a number of research groups during their secondments to the USA, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Science & Engineering Associates Inc., University of Florida, Ocean Optics Inc., University of South Carolina, Catalina Scientific Corporation, Yucca Mountain High Level Waste Repository project at the Nevada Test Site.
  • Launched a new product - a Modular Optical Enclosure System.
  • Met with staff from TRADA Technology to discuss the possible use of LIBS to discriminate preservative treated wood from untreated wood during the processing of wood waste. This later led to APL applying to the DTI for an R&D Grant to investigate the feasibility of LIBS for this application.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Andy Whitehouse and Jim Young outside their rented apartment in Santa Fe, New Mexico during their International Secondment to BNFL Instruments Inc


  • Established a teaming agreement with BNFL Instruments Inc., a world leader in the supply of nuclear materials characterisation products and services to the US nuclear market. BNFL Instruments Inc. is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Conducted technical trials of customised LIBS instruments at a steel plant in mainland Europe.
  • Completed the DTI SMART funded LIBSCAN development project in April. The project concluded with the realisation of a pre-production prototype LIBSCAN instrument.
  • Awarded funding from the DTI in support of an international secondment for two members of staff to work with BNFL Instruments in the USA. The secondment allowed for the Managing Director (Andrew Whitehouse) and the Technical Manager (Jim Young) to spend 9 months and 5 months respectively in the USA staged over a period of 18 months.
  • In September, Andrew Whitehouse presented a talk titled "Extreme LIBS" (Presentation: ) at the LIBS 2002 international conference held in Orlando, Florida.
  • Conducted an experimental investigation on behalf of QinetiQ for a military application of LIBS.
  • Conducted further technical trials of LIBS instruments at a steel plant in mainland Europe.
Dr Andy Whitehouse with Tony Marlow of BNFL Instruments Inc
Dr Andy Whitehouse (MD, Applied Photonics Limited) with Tony Marlow (VP, BNFL Instruments Inc), Santa Fe, New Mexico (January 2002)


  • Provided an in-vessel quality control inspection service to Hunterston B station during the economiser swage-piece replacement campaign during the period January to March.
  • Performed the first use of a telescopic LIBS instrument to remotely analyse radioactive material by directing the laser beam through a 1 metre thick lead-glass radiation shield window of a nuclear hot-cell. The instrument successfully analysed highly- radioactive material within the Thorp reprocessing plant at BNFL's Sellafield site in West Cumbria (see Application Note 002 ).
  • Used a telescope LIBS instrument to identify reinforcing bars and cooling water tubes at the Wylfa Magnox nuclear power station (see Application Note 003 ).
ST-LIBS system performing analysis through hot-cell window
ST-LIBS system performing non-invasive material characterisation through 1 metre thick lead-glass shield window


  • Relocated to purpose-designed new facilities at Carleton Business Park, Skipton, North Yorkshire. Over 3000 ft2 of modern offices, laboratories and engineering workshop facilities.
  • Won a second DTI SMART Award to develop an advanced prototype LIBS system for use in a nuclear Hot-Cell.
  • Undertook various nuclear inspection activities at Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B AGR nuclear power stations. Involved in the ISI (In-Service Inspection) programme at Hinkley Point B and various video probe camera inspections at both stations.
APL's facilities
APL's facilities


  • Won a DTI SMART Award to develop a "proof of principle" industrial LIBS system suitable for remotely analysing radioactive materials.
  • First use of a fibre-optic LIBS system to remotely analyse materials within the pressure vessel of an AGR nuclear reactor. Custom-designed instrument incorporating a 75-metre fibre-optic umbilical used to determine the copper content of superheater bifurcation tubes manufactured from austenitic stainless-steel (see Application Note 001 ).
  • Won an award for "Innovative use of Laser Technology" from Make it with LasersTM / The Welding Institute.
Deployment of fibre LIBS probe in AGR boiler
Deployment of fibre-optic LIBS probe inside AGR superheater (Hunterston B station, 1999)


  • Applied Photonics Ltd established in August 1998 by Dr Andrew I Whitehouse, a former employee of British Nuclear Fuels plc who led a small team involved with the development of laser-based materials analysis techniques within the Research & Technology Department at Sellafield. The principal motivation behind the setting up of the new company was to offer a specialist service to industry in the field of laser spectroscopic remote analysis of materials, in particular Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS). Business opportunities were believed to exist in the nuclear, steel manufacturing and glass manufacturing industries with an emphasis on remote chemical analysis of hazardous or high-temperature materials. Other markets were believed to exist in areas such as recycling of metals, alloys and plastics where the rapid, non-contact chemical analysis capabilities of LIBS are seen as offering a unique and cost-effective solution to the practical problems of high-speed sorting of scrap materials.
  • Company employed five staff and set up premises at the Innovation Centre, Westlakes Science & Technology Park, Whitehaven, West Cumbria.
  • Won a major contract with British Energy Ltd to design, manufacture and deploy a fibre-optic LIBS instrument for use at Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B AGR nuclear power stations (see Application Note 001 ).
APL's laser laboratory
APL's laser laboratory