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Proceedings Paper

Experimental study on the effect of wavelength and fluence in the laser cleaning of silvering in late Roman coins (mid 3rd/4th century AD)
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Paper Abstract

The political problems in Late Roman Empire caused significant changes in the coin technology. The silver content dropped severely and a new technology, in all the mints operating around the Empire, was introduced. For the production of these coins, copper based quaternary alloys were used and their surface was covered by a silver amalgam plating layer. Hoards of these coins have been recovered in thousands from across the Empire, however, their treatment has been problematic. Both mechanical and chemical cleaning results in the damage or the complete destruction of the thin silver layer. The use of laser technology in the cleaning of works of art has a wide range of applications which includes metallic objects. The main aim of this work was to investigate the use of lasers in the cleaning of the thin silver plating layers found in late Roman coins. The optimisation of laser parameters was achieved through comparative cleaning tests by employing Nd:YAG (532 nm and 266 nm) laser systems. The cleaning results on the plated areas were characterised by optical microscopy, and SEM-EDX analysis. Following a systematic investigation and many cleaning trials on two different wavelengths and fluence values, optimum irradiation parameters were thoroughly demonstrated. Microscopic observations of the cleaned areas evidenced complete removal of the encrustation and high selectivity of the laser cleaning. Neither thermal or mechanical injuries, nor cuprite blackening were observed on the cleaned surfaces at the optimum laser cleaning technique, using 532 nm of the Nd: YAG laser.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 March 2007
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 6604, 14th International School on Quantum Electronics: Laser Physics and Applications, 66040W (5 March 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.726984
Show Author Affiliations
C. Vlachou-Mogire, Numismatic Museum of Athens (Greece)
E. Drakaki, National Technical Univ. of Athens (Greece)
A. A. Serafetinides, National Technical Univ. of Athens (Greece)
I. Zergioti, National Technical Univ. of Athens (Greece)
N. Boukos, National Ctr. for Scientific Research Demokritos (Greece)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6604:
14th International School on Quantum Electronics: Laser Physics and Applications
Peter A. Atanasov; Tanja N. Dreischuh; Sanka V. Gateva; Lubomir M. Kovachev, Editor(s)

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