Near-Infrared (NIR) reflectography is a well-established technique for painting diagnostics, offering a fundamental contribution to the conservation of paintings. Since the '80s it has been routinely applied to study the execution technique of the author, as well as the presence of pentimenti, retouches, integrations or underdrawing. In the last decades IR reflectography has been extended to the visible (VIS) spectral range, providing information about the pigment composition. Up to now the multispectral analysis is still applied at an experimental level, as the processing of the image set is not straightforward.
Rarely multispectral VIS-IR application has been applied to frescos, probably due to the lack, in most cases, of a scattering background.
In this work we present the results provided by a multispectral scanning device based on single sensor acquisition, working in the 380-2500 nm spectral range, that is a laboratory prototype specifically built for research-grade imaging. The technique have been applied on a mock up simulating a mural painting substrate where an underdrawing, made of either carbon or iron-gall ink, was covered by different surface layers of limewash, the so-called scialbo.
"Cleaning" is a process of carefully identifying the cause of any deterioration or discolouration and then removing or treating these layers. The skill of the restorer is not only to understand the techniques and media used by the artist, but also to recognize what beauty lies beneath the veils of many years of neglect or adverse conditions. Surface cleaning is then one of the most important and sometimes controversial stages of the conservation process: it is an irreversible process that generally results in substantial physical changes of the object surface, raising thus a series of questions regarding aesthetics, the potential loss of historical information, and the ability to control the cleaning process adequately. Decisions have to be made regarding partial or complete removal of varnish: technical considerations include selection of a method that allows a great deal of control in the cleaning process, so that undesired layers can be removed without damaging the underlying ones by means of traditional cleaning methods, including mechanical or chemical removal. In this work we present a study of the optical properties of painting surfaces for the characterization of the cleaning process. Analyses were carried out by means of laser micro-profilometry and confocal microscopy. Measurements were carried out on a few paintings which are under repair at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence. Selected areas were surveyed with the two above mentioned techniques and results were correlated.
A variety of optical investigation methods applied to paintings are, by now, an integral part of the repair process, both to
plan the restoration intervention and to monitor its various phases. Among them infrared reflectography in wide-band
modality is traditionally employed in non-invasive diagnostics of ancient paintings to reveal features underlying the
pictorial layer thanks to transparency characteristics to NIR radiation of most of the materials composing the paints.
This technique was improved with the introduction of the multi-spectral modality that consists in acquiring the radiation
back scattered from the painting into narrow spectral bands. The technology, widely used in remote sensing applications
such as satellite or radar imaging, has only recently gained importance in the field of artwork conservation thanks to the
varied reflectance and transmittance of pigments over this spectral region.
In this work we present a scanning device for multi-NIR spectral imaging of paintings, based on contact-less and singlepoint
measurement of the reflectance of painted surfaces. The back-scattered radiation is focused on square-shaped fiber
bundle that carries the light to an array of 16 photodiodes equipped with pass-band filters so to cover the NIR spectral
range from 900 to 2500 nm. In particular, we describe the last instrument upgrade that consists in the addition of an
autofocus system that keeps the optical head perfectly focused during the scanning. The output of the autofocus system
can be used as a raw map of the painting shape.
In this contribution, we describe two innovations of the structure of large mass bolometers, proposed by the cryogenic group of the Insubria University (Como) and developed in collaboration with the Firenze group. First, up to now, low temperature calorimeters do not have any sort of spatial resolution. This means that it is not possible to reject events coming from the material that faces the detectors (holder, refrigerators shields, ...). In order to cope this problem, we developed a new kind of composite bolometers able to discriminate, by means of active ultra-pure semiconductor shields, external surface events from those coming from the absorber bulk.
A second innovation that we discuss here concerns the temperature sensors. Presently, neutron transmutation doped Ge thermistors are the most common kind of phonon sensors. Unfortunately, this kind of readout dissipates power on the detector because of the thermistor biasing and also introduces a Johnson noise term. To improve energy resolution we studied and test the application of capacitive sensors that in principle could allow us to achieve a better signal-to-noise ratio. Modeling, simulations and first encouraging measurements on surface sensitive bolometers will be discussed along with preliminary results on capacitive sensors.
Milano collaboration has been developing for many years large mass bolometers for particle detection, and in particular for the study of neutrinoless double beta decay of 130Te. The active components of the detectors are large mass (340 g and 790 g) TeO2 crystals, while Neutron Transmutation Doped Ge thermistors are used as phonon sensors. These devices work at low temperatures, about 5-10 mK. The mechanical and thermal connections of the detector to the thermal bath are made with PTFE pieces that hold the crystal on copper frames. Gold wires are used as electric connections. We have developed a complete thermal model for the bolometers and "ad hoc" measurements of the thermal parameters involved were performed in the Florence cryogenic laboratory. These studies have permitted to simulate the static and dynamic behaviours of the detectors. A satisfactory agreement between simulated and the experimental response has been obtained as far as the static behaviour is concerned, while the dynamic behaviour is not yet fully understood. These preliminary results however will enable us to design new detector structures in order to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and the reproducibility. Given the good performances of these devices (excellent energy resolutions were obtained, of the order of 2 keV at 911 keV and of 5 keV at 2615 keV), this technique is particularly suitable to detectors for gamma ray spectroscopy. Encouraged by this results, the Milano-Como group has joined a large international collaboration for the realization of CUORE (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events), seraching for Dark Matter and neutrinoless Double Beta Decay, a crucial phenomenon for neutrino physics. The Cuoricino detector, a small scale test of CUORE detector, is an array of 62 large mass bolometers like those already described, and it is now in operation in the Gran Sasso undergrand laboratory (Italy). It is the largest array of bolometric detectors ever constructed.