Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration

Feb 24, 2010
Art conservationists cleaned the two angels on the left with traditional restoration methods. They cleaned the one on the right using an advanced laser technique, which produced better results. Credit: Salvatore Siano

A laser technique best known for its use to remove unwanted tattoos from the skin is finding a second life in preserving great sculptures, paintings and other works of art, according to an article in ACS' monthly journal, Accounts of Chemical Research. The technique, called laser ablation, involves removing material from a solid surface by vaporizing the material with a laser beam.

Salvatore Siano and Renzo Salimbeni point out that cleaning of artworks actually began about 10 years before the better known medical and industrial applications of the technique. Doctors, for example, use laser ablation in medicine to remove unwanted tattoos from the skin. In industry, the technique can remove paints, coatings and other material without damaging the underlying surface.

In the article, the scientists note that laser ablation has had an important impact in preserving the world's cultural heritage of great works of art. They describe the latest advances in laser cleaning of stone and metal statues and wall paintings, including masterpieces like Lorenzo Ghiberti's Porta del Paradiso and Donatello's David. They also discuss encouraging results of laser cleaning underwater for materials that could deteriorate if exposed to air.

Explore further: Application of high-temperature superconductor yields world's highest magnetic field

More information: "Advances in Laser Cleaning of Artwork and Objects of Historical Interest: The Optimized Pulse Duration Approach", Accounts of Chemical Research.

Related Stories

Hybrid welding process developed

Dec 18, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've developed a hybrid process involving the use of a laser in friction-stir welding to extend the application to more materials.

Bioactive glass nanofibers produced

Dec 18, 2009

A team of researchers from the University of Vigo, Rutgers University in the United States and Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, has developed "laser spinning", a novel method of producing glass ...

Recommended for you

How cancer cells avoid shutdown

51 minutes ago

A mechanism beyond the level of gene regulation, which is often the underlying reason for changes in protein levels, does enable the strong accumulation of a tumour promoting protease in stressed cancer cells. ...

Aluminum clusters shut down molecular fuel factory

1 hour ago

Despite decades of industrial use, the exact chemical transformations occurring within zeolites, a common material used in the conversion of oil to gasoline, remain poorly understood. Now scientists have ...

New catalyst does more with less platinum

1 hour ago

Platinum is a highly reactive and in-demand catalyst across the chemical and energy industries, but a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia Institute of Technology scientists could reduce the ...

Learning from biology to accelerate discovery

5 hours ago

A spider's web is one of the most intricate constructions in nature, but its precious silk has more than one use. Silk threads can be used as draglines, guidelines, anchors, pheromonal trails, nest lining, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.