Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration

February 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: In Brief: Winbond buys laser system for chip plant

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

December 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.

New microfabrication technology announced

February 8, 2007

U.S. scientists have created a new method of rapidly engineering complex micro-scale patterns and 3D microstructures from biocompatible proteins.

Bioactive glass nanofibers produced

December 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 nanofibres with ...

Recommended for you

Isolation of Fe(IV) decamethylferrocene salts

August 29, 2016

(Phys.org)—Ferrocene is the model compound that students often learn when they are introduced to organometallic chemistry. It has an iron center that is coordinated to the π electrons in two cyclopentadienyl rings. (C5H5- ...

Bringing artificial enzymes closer to nature

August 29, 2016

Scientists at the University of Basel, ETH Zurich, and NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering have developed an artificial metalloenzyme that catalyses a reaction inside of cells without equivalent in nature. This could be a ...

New method developed for producing some metals

August 25, 2016

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony—and ...

0 comments

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.