Nondestructive Characterization by Advanced Synchrotron Light Techniques: Spectromicroscopy and Coherent Radiology

The advanced characteristics of synchrotron light has led in recent years to the development of a series of new experimental techniques to investigate chemical and physical properties on a microscopic scale. Although originally developed for materials science and biomedical research, such techniques find increasing applications in other domains - and could be quite useful for the study and conservation of cultural heritage. Specifically, they can nondestructively provide detailed chemical composition information that can be useful for the identification of specimens, for the discovery of historical links based on the sources of chemical raw materials and on chemical processes, for the analysis of damage, their causes and remedies and for many other issues. Likewise, morphological and structural information on a microscopic scale is useful for the identification, study and preservation of many different cultural and historical specimens. We concentrate here on two classes of techniques: in the first case, photoemission spectromicroscopy. This is the result of the advanced evolution of photoemission techniques like ESCA (Electron Microscopy for Chemical Analysis). By combining high lateral resolution to spectroscopy, photoemission spectromicroscopy can deliver fine chemical information on a microscopic scale in a nondestructive fashion. The second class of techniques exploits the high lateral coherence of modern synchrotron sources, a byproduct of the quest for high brightness or brilliance. We will see that such techniques now push radiology into the submicron scale and the submillisecond time domain. Furthermore, they can be implemented in a tomographic mode, increasing the information and becoming potentially quite useful for the analysis of cultural heritage specimens.


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