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Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration

Date:
February 25, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
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. The technique, called laser ablation, involves removing material from a solid surface by vaporizing the material with a laser beam.

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 the American Chemical Society's 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 laser 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Siano et al. Advances in Laser Cleaning of Artwork and Objects of Historical Interest: The Optimized Pulse Duration Approach. Accounts of Chemical Research, 2010; 100128133929068 DOI: 10.1021/ar900190f

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132641.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, February 25). Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132641.htm
American Chemical Society. "Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132641.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

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