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Proceedings Paper

Probing the limits of paper and parchment laser cleaning by multispectral imaging
Author(s): Wolfgang Kautek; Simone Pentzien; Doris Mueller-Hess; Karin Troschke; Rianne Teule
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Paper Abstract

Paper and parchment cleaning with lasers provides the advantage to be a contact-less and dry process. The absence of chemical agents, its spectroscopic selectivity, micro-precision, computer-aided handling, and the combination with on-line diagnostic techniques makes it attractive for restoration applications. This technique, however, is not only limited by the evaporation of such delicate protein or cellulose fibre structures (i.e. the ablation threshold) or by discolorations, which can be easily detected by the naked eye or by microscopic inspection. Even when the aesthetic appearance is not altered, invisible irreversible chemical modifications may affect the long-term aging behavior negatively. In such cases, only diagnostic tools sensitive for chemical changes can probe the limits of laser cleaning. Deviations of chemical conversion threshold fluences from the well-established ablation threshold fluence values were investigated by multi-spectral imaging techniques at parchment or paper model systems and historical originals. Ultraviolet, visible and infrared reflection, but also visible fluorescence were employed using an imaging system, which operates in a spectral range from 320 nm to 1550 nm. Visible imaging allowed an accurate documentation of the color appearance of the artwork before and after the laser treatment. In-depth information of chemical modifications could be gained by the infrared imaging mode. Surface chemical identification was performed by both diffuse-reflection imaging in the ultraviolet range between 320 and 400 nm, and by visible fluorescence imaging using a 365 nm light source. The results for excimer laser treatment at 308 nm show that not only the laser fluence but also the age of the artefact strongly affects the chemical conversion threshold. Most substrates older than at least several decades exhibited much higher chemical stability than new model systems. This is a strong indication that the aging status of both parchment and paper artefact plays a major role in assessing the laser cleaning limits. That means that the laser processing behavior of model systems can be compared with that of original fibrous artworks to only a very limited extent, and that original artefacts have to be treated rather as individual specimens.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 October 2001
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 4402, Laser Techniques and Systems in Art Conservation, (22 October 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.445655
Show Author Affiliations
Wolfgang Kautek, Bundesanstalt fuer Materialforschung und -pruefung (Germany)
Simone Pentzien, Bundesanstalt fuer Materialforschung und -pruefung (Germany)
Doris Mueller-Hess, Schloss Schoenbrunn Institut fuer Papierrestaurierung (Austria)
Karin Troschke, Schloss Schoenbrunn Institut fuer Papierrestaurierung (Austria)
Rianne Teule, Art Innovation BV (Netherlands)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4402:
Laser Techniques and Systems in Art Conservation

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