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Issue 5, 2013
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A mobile instrument for in situ scanning macro-XRF investigation of historical paintings

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Abstract

Scanning macro-X-ray fluorescence analysis (MA-XRF) is rapidly being established as a technique for the investigation of historical paintings. The elemental distribution images acquired by this method allow for the visualization of hidden paint layers and thus provide insight into the artist's creative process and the painting's conservation history. Due to the lack of a dedicated, commercially available instrument the application of the technique was limited to a few groups that constructed their own instruments. We present the first commercially available XRF scanner for paintings, consisting of an X-ray tube mounted with a Silicon-Drift (SD) detector on a motorized stage to be moved in front of a painting. The scanner is capable of imaging the distribution of the main constituents of surface and sub-surface paint layers in an area of 80 by 60 square centimeters with dwell times below 10 ms and a lateral resolution below 100 μm. The scanner features for a broad range of elements between Ti (Z = 22) and Mo (Z = 42) a count rate of more than 1000 counts per second (cps)/mass percent and detection limits of 100 ppm for measurements of 1 s duration. Next to a presentation of spectrometric figures of merit, the value of the technique is illustrated through a case study of a painting by Rembrandt's student Govert Flinck (1615–1660).

Graphical abstract: A mobile instrument for in situ scanning macro-XRF investigation of historical paintings

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Nov 2012, accepted on 04 Mar 2013 and first published on 21 Mar 2013


Article type: Technical Note
DOI: 10.1039/C3JA30341A
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013,28, 760-767
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    A mobile instrument for in situ scanning macro-XRF investigation of historical paintings

    M. Alfeld, J. V. Pedroso, M. van Eikema Hommes, G. Van der Snickt, G. Tauber, J. Blaas, M. Haschke, K. Erler, J. Dik and K. Janssens, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013, 28, 760
    DOI: 10.1039/C3JA30341A

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