artMAP: Innovative analytical methodology for in-situ identification and real-time mapping of organic binders used in ancient wall paintings
June 2022 – June 2024
The scope of this project is the development of a new analytical methodology for in-situ identification and real-time mapping of organic binders used in ancient wall paintings. The proposed method combines two complementary highly specific molecular techniques – Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The proposed methodology is innovative and tries to solve a difficult problem of interest at the level of the international scientific community: the identification and mapping of organic binders present in low concentrations in ancient painted surfaces. A two-step optimization method will be used: (1) LIF measurements will be carried as a first step for remote non-invasive real-time diagnosis and mapping of the organic components that may be present within the investigated samples; (2) results of the LIF analysis will be refined and validated by FTIR measurements carried out on selected micro-samples that will be subject to a pretreatment (selective extraction method of the organic binder). The main objectives of the project include: (1) upgrade of the LIF scanning system with a new laser source and development of a new software interface; (2) development of a LIF spectral library of organic compounds; (3) development of an enhanced FTIR method using micro-extraction protocol; (4) testing and evaluation of the new analytical methodology for in-situ identification and real-time mapping of organic components in real samples (selected 2nd century Roman wall painting fragments). Expected results of the project include: development of new solutions for the characterization (identification and mapping) of organic compounds present in low amounts in complex painted surfaces; possibility to solve old problems within the heritage science field and stimulate new research directions; improvement of the range of existing services by developing new analytical packages dedicated to the art market and cultural heritage field.