In this work, plasma characterization by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) has been investigated. We propose a method based on the calculation of the optical thicknesses of emission spectral lines in the framework of a homogeneous optically thick plasma in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). In this approach, self-absorption is taken into account to retrieve the optically thin intensities and plasma characterization is achieved. The developed procedure is applied to magnesium (Mg) lines measured from plasmas generated in air at atmospheric pressure from calcium hydroxide samples using an infrared Nd:YAG laser. The influence of laser irradiance on both plasma shape and emission intensity was studied to select the most suitable experimental conditions. Spectral lines of Mg I–II were measured and analyzed for different laser energies, delay times, and concentrations of the analyte. In each case, the plasma temperature, the electron density, and the parameters <i>Nl</i> were determined, without employing curves-of-growth. The results obtained showed the practical usefulness of the method to provide valuable information in LIBS experiments.
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