Versatile pulsed laser setup for depth profiling analysis of multilayered samples in the field of cultural heritage

N. F. C. Mendes*, I. Osticioli, J. Striova, A. Sansonetti, M. Becucci, E. Castellucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The present study considers the use of a nanosecond pulsed laser setup capable of performing laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and pulsed Raman spectroscopy for the study of multilayered objects in the field of cultural heritage. Controlled etching using the 4th harmonic 266 nm emission of a Nd:YAG laser source with a 8 ns pulse duration was performed on organic films and mineral strata meant to simulate different sequence of layers usually found in art objects such as in easel and mural paintings. The process of micro ablation coupled with powerful spectroscopic techniques operating with the same laser source, constitutes an interesting alternative to mechanical sampling especially when dealing with artworks such as ceramics and metal works which are problematic due to their hardness and brittleness. Another case is that of valuable pieces where sampling is not an option and the materials to analyse lie behind the surface. The capabilities and limitations of such instrumentation were assessed through several tests in order to characterize the trend of the laser ablation on different materials. Monitored ablation was performed on commercial sheets of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a standard material of known thickness and mechanical stability, and rabbit glue, an adhesive often used in works of art. Measurements were finally carried out on a specimen with a stratigraphy similar to those found in real mural paintings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-426
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Structure
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Lead white
  • LIBS spectroscopy
  • Mural paintings
  • Nd:YAG laser etching
  • Pulsed Raman spectroscopy
  • Rabbit glue


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