Femtosecond pump-probe microscopy generates virtual cross-sections in historic artwork

Journal Article

Significance We show that a nonlinear microscopy technique (femtosecond pump-probe microscopy) allows for nondestructive 3D imaging of paintings with molecular and structural contrast. Until now, studying the layering structure of a painting has generally required the physical removal of a cross-section sample. Pump-probe imaging has previously been shown on biological tissue, but applications to cultural heritage are more challenging: the variety of pigments in the artist’s palate is enormous compared with the biological pigments present in skin. Nonetheless, we show virtual cross-sectioning capabilities in mockup paintings and nondestructive imaging on an intact 14th century painting. This work represents a comprehensive collaborative effort between laser and biomedical imaging experts and scientists and conservators in national museums.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Villafana, TE; Brown, WP; Delaney, JK; Palmer, M; Warren, WS; Fischer, MC

Published Date

  • February 4, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 111 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1708 - 1713

Published By

PubMed ID

  • 24449855

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3918778

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.1317230111


  • en