Optical Conservation

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Science  26 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5739, pp. 1302
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5739.1302a

In the interests of conservation, historical research, and attribution, paintings in museums may be subjected to a barrage of scientific probes, each of which is sensitive primarily to surface or subsurface features; sometimes, small samples are physically removed from the painting for analysis. The development of techniques that are nondestructive and noninvasive is not only desirable but also necessary when it comes to examining old and delicate pieces. The optical interferometric technique of optical coherence tomography (OCT) is usually associated with the three-dimensional imaging of biological samples, particularly the inner structure of the eye. Liang et al. show that OCT can also be used for the noninvasive examination of paintings to provide high-resolution and dynamic imaging capabilities for visualizing the structures of layers of varnish, layers of paint, and even the preliminary sketches underneath. This imaging technique should prove to be a useful tool for the conservation and attribution of art. — ISO

Opt. Express 13, 6133 (2005).

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