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Issue 6, 2008
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Applications of synchrotron-based micro-imaging techniques to the chemical analysis of ancient paintings

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Abstract

Ancient paintings are complex materials in terms of chemical analysis because they are usually made of organic/mineral, amorphous/crystallized, major/minor mixtures, evolving with time, and organized in micrometric multi-layered arrangements. In this context, synchrotron micro-imaging techniques offer a powerful analytical platform to reveal the two dimensional atomic, molecular and structural compositions of such complex systems, at a micrometre resolution. The two selected examples illustrate the two main concerns of restorers and conservators: looking backwards, to get insight into ancient artistic practices (in particular through the identification of pigments and binders in Bamiyan Buddhist mural paintings); and looking forward, to preserve works of art as long as possible (through a better understanding of cinnabar blackening in Medieval Spanish paintings). From the analytical chemistry point of view, they also illustrate the relevance of combining micro X-ray fluorescence, micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy, micro X-ray diffraction, and micro-FTIR for the complete analysis of painting cross-sections (binders and pigments).

Graphical abstract: Applications of synchrotron-based micro-imaging techniques to the chemical analysis of ancient paintings

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Publication details

The article was received on 25 Jan 2008, accepted on 20 Mar 2008 and first published on 22 Apr 2008


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B801358F
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2008,23, 820-828
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    Applications of synchrotron-based micro-imaging techniques to the chemical analysis of ancient paintings

    M. Cotte, J. Susini, V. A. Solé, Y. Taniguchi, J. Chillida, E. Checroun and P. Walter, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2008, 23, 820
    DOI: 10.1039/B801358F

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