12 August 2005 Laser dusting of delicate objects
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Abstract
Since the inception of the laser-divestment process, emphasis has focused on the treatment of reasonably durable materials. Marble, limestone, sandstone, and bronze are foremost among these. In most situations the objective of laser divestment is the removal of superficial corrosion or chemical-decomposition products. To a lesser extent laser ablation is also used to treat diverse surface problems for a spectrum of other historic and artistic substrates such as paper, vellum, ivory, paint, and plaster. Although materials of this sort are not particularly strong, their optical, thermodynamical, and mechanical properties are sufficiently propitious to enable successful laser treatment (with the exercise of precise control). There is another, quite different, cleaning problem encountered in the maintenance of museum collections. This is often referred to as "dusting" (in contrast to "divestment" or "conservation"). Vacuuming, wiping, blowing, and feather dusting are used most often to improve the cosmetic appearance of museum objects after dust and aerosols have accumulated on exposed surfaces. However, many collections include extremely friable pieces composed of feathers, fir, hair, plant fibers, or mummified skin. Conventional dusting may be impossible in such instances. From experimental observations and theoretical analyses we speculate that at very low fluxes laser-induced acoustic and electrostatic forces are responsible for the ejection of debris. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that laser dusting was effective on feathers and textiles, The practical viability of laser dusting was demonstrated by laser-cleaning two very large sand sculptures by San Diego artist C.R. Faust. In contrast, all conventional cleaning techniques damaged the surface by dislodging sand grains.
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John F. Asmus, Meg Abraham, "Laser dusting of delicate objects", Proc. SPIE 5857, Optical Methods for Arts and Archaeology, 585706 (12 August 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.612461; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.612461
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