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Laser Cleaning of Art Works


Laser Cleaning of Art Works of Metals, Paper, Parchment, Fabric, Leather and Painting: Research of Possibilities, Development of Technologies and Laser Equipment

Tech Area / Field

  • OTH-OTH/Other/Other
  • PHY-OPL/Optics and Lasers/Physics

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Suh G W

Leading Institute
B.I. Stepanov Institute of Physics, Belarus, Minsk

Supporting institutes

  • Research and Desigh Company "Belmicrosystems" , Belarus, Minsk\nNational Art Museum of Republic of Belarus, Belarus, Minsk\nNational Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus / Experimental Design Unitary Enterprise "Axicon", Belarus, Minsk

Project summary

Objectives: The objectives of the project are creation of and working out the equipment and technology for laser cleaning of art works made of metal (bronze, steel, pig-iron), paper, parchment, fabric, leather, easel and wall painting by influence of pulse repetition rate radiation of various duration of the YAG:Nd laser emitting on its basic wave length (1064 nm), second (532 nm), third (354.6 nm) and fourth (266 nm) harmonics, on a number of untraditional wavelengths for the YAG:Nd laser in the 1.32 - 1.44 mm range, and also on a number fixed wavelengths in the 266-1600 nm range obtained at the expense of nonlinear conversion of the radiation of the specified laser.

State of Affairs in the Research Area:

It is known about a wide application of YAG:Nd lasers of the nanosecond duration range, emitting on 1.064 mm, with multi-mirror hinged manipulators, for cleaning art products made of stone. Work on application of those lasers for cleaning art products of bronze is being conducted. Attempts to apply excimer UV lasers for cleaning pictures with admission of laser radiation by moving an object across the laser beam are undertaken. (See, e.g., Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks (LACONA II), The Conservation Centre, Liverpool, April 23rd-25th 1997).

Project Effect on the Research Area Progress:

The realization of the purposes of the given project will in the whole allow one to develop essentially new nondestructive efficient ways of cleaning art works made of metal (bronze, steel, pig-iron), paper, parchment, fabric, leather, easel and wall painting; to establish for each particular kind of art product the most optimum wave lengths and durations of laser radiation ensuring best selectivity, locality and efficiency of pollution removal; to apply convenient, simple and reliable YAG: Nd-lasers; will enable one to carry out admission of laser radiation to a treated object with the help of flexible fibers of significant length, which will allow laser-cleaning installations to be used, for example, in cult structures, and also in places difficult of access.

Competence of Project Participants: In the project, 27 persons of the technological personnel, experienced in laser physics, spectroscopy and restoration, including 6 doctors of sciences (among which are 5 professors), 7 candidates of physico-mathematical sciences, 3 candidates of technical sciences, 1 candidate of fine art, 10 persons with higher education will participate as the main executors.

Expected Results and their Application:

Physico-chemical processes occurring on surfaces of various materials at influence of laser radiation of various wavelengths and durations will be studied; processes of fiber degradation under pulsed UV-radiation and efficient laser radiation conversion will be investigated;. optimum technologies will be developed and demonstrated; pilot samples of laser cleaning installations will be created.

Meeting ISTC Goals and Objectives:

· The project will enable a large group of highly skilled scientists, engaged earlier, for the most part, in development of the military technology, to use their knowledge, experience and previous designs for peace purposes.

· The project is eventually directed onto creation of commercial products, which will promote transition of Belarus to market economy meeting civil needs.

· Realization of the purposes of the project will support the fundamental and applied investigations, development of technologies in respect of solution of the global problem of preservation of cultural legacy.

· Realization of the project will promote integration of belarusian scientists into the international scientific community in this field. The scientific results obtained at fulfillment of the project will be offered for the scientific publications.

Scope of Activities: The project is planned for three year’s period. The total amount of work will make 599 man-months with approximately uniform distribution over years and quarters. In the framework of the project two main tasks connected with each other will be fulfilled:

1. Processes will be investigated, technologies will be developed of laser cleaning and preservation of art products made of metal (bronze, steel, pig-iron). An installation for laser cleaning will be created, based on the pulse repetition rate YAG:Nd laser emitting on 1.064 mm, and untraditional wavelengths in the range 1.32 – 1.44 mm, with fiber transportation of radiation with an average power up to 100 W and pulse duration of hundreds microseconds.

2. Processes will be investigated, technologies will be developed of laser cleaning of art products made of paper, parchment, fabric, leather, easel and wall painting. An installation of laser cleaning will be created including a pulse repetition rate YAG:Nd laser of a nanosecond range duration emitting in the range of 1.064, 1.32 – 1.44 mm, and a unit of nonlinear-optical conversion of laser radiation that provides radiation pulses on a number of fixed wave lengths in the range of 0.266-1.6 mm. The possibility of transportation of UV laser radiation with the help of the flexible fiber to a treated art product will be investigated.

Role of Foreign Collaborators: Cooperation with collaborators is assumed to be in the following forms:

· Information interchange during realization of the project;

· Giving comments to the ISTC technical reports (quarter, annual, final and other);

· Carrying out checks of the results obtained during realization of the project;

· Testing and estimating the equipment and technologies developed (it will allow one to define, in more details, the sphere of the particular applications of developed methods, technologies and equipment in restoration practice);

· Participating in technical checks of activity under the project carried out by the ISTC employees;

· Participating in working seminars.

Role of Partner: there are no partners

Technical Approach and Methodology: Investigation of fragments of art products at laser cleaning by methods of X-ray analysis, Auger-spectroscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy and other physico-chemical methods; development of optimum technologies of laser cleaning of art products, study of the possibility of realization of art product preservation by selection of regimes and environment for laser cleaning; investigation and development of the optimum laser circuits, development of optimum ways of laser radiation feed with the help of flexible fibers to a treated art product; development of the design documentation, creation and certification, according the standards of Republic of Belarus, of pilot installations for laser cleaning of art works of metal, paper, parchment, fabric, leather, easel and wall painting.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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