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This Highlight Seminar will be held online.


The study, conservation and protection of works of art and antiquities are essential for knowing, understanding and preserving our cultural heritage. But the meaningful study and successful conservation of heritage objects represent important scientific and technological challenges because of the inherently complex, multi-component nature of materials in such objects, which quite often suffer additionally from different causes of natural or anthropogenic degradation or deterioration. As a result, to identify materials on or in heritage objects and to implement optimal conservation methodologies relies on the existence of effective tools for non-invasive diagnosis and safe intervention. Optical and analytical technologies play a key role in this respect. In particular, modern laser science and technology has enabled the development of adaptable and complementary analytical and structural diagnostic techniques and novel conservation tools based on laser ablation.

As an example of a versatile laser-based technique, representing a fast and straightforward analytical tool, LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy) will be presented, with emphasis on mobile and hybrid instrumentation. Mobile or portable instruments are of great use facilitating access to highly valued artworks and objects in museums or excavation sites. Furthermore, the potential of micro-LIBS imaging for probing the distribution of materials across surfaces will be discussed with emphasis on the fast elemental mapping of marine shell cross-sections. Concerning conservation, a number of pulsed laser systems have been successfully implemented for the cleaning of artefacts and monuments, including sculpture at the Athens Parthenon. The unavoidable intrusive character of laser cleaning imposes the need for case-specific optimization and control of the laser parameters employed and a good knowledge of the fundamental processes involved. And beyond this, the effectiveness of any application is strongly linked to the use of suitable monitoring tools that provide in real time information to the user and allow for informed decisions to be made.


Demetrios Anglos is Professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Crete and Associated Researcher at IESL-FORTH, where he leads the Applied Spectroscopy Laboratory (since 2001). He holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry (1986) from the University of Athens, Greece and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry (1994) from Cornell University, USA. The activities of his research group focus on a) the study of photophysics in molecules and novel nanomaterials with potential sensing applications, and b) the applications of laser spectroscopic techniques (LIF, LIBS, Raman spectroscopy) in the analysis of materials couple to the development of mobile, field-deployable instrumentation with diagnostic potential in heritage science. The output of his research is published in around 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has been presented in several talks at major international conferences. He has been involved in a number of EU and nationally-funded research projects. He has also co-ordinated a multi-site Marie-Curie Early Stage Training project and an Intra-European Post-Doctoral Fellowship Grant at IESL-FORTH. During the period 2001-2016, he served as the Technical Manager of the Ultraviolet Laser Facility operating at IESL-FORTH, which is currently a member of LASERLAB-EUROPE. Over the past few years he has concentrated his attention on European and National Initiatives which aim at developing Research Infrastructures relevant to Cultural Heritage Science, E-RIHS (European Research Infrastructures for Heritage Science) and E-RIHS.gr. Since 2012, he is a member of the Editorial Board of Heritage Science.

More events in the “Science and Engineering Research for Cultural Heritage” Series

About Science and Engineering Research for Cultural Heritage

A Network of Excellence connecting scientists & engineers with conservators & heritage professionals to find solutions to cultural heritage problems. The artworks, artefacts and structures inherited from the past have a powerful impact on our society, so the conservation of our cultural heritage is fundamental for future generations. This shared cultural heritage requires intervention to stabilise and prevent further degradation of often unique artefacts. This degradation results from use, ageing, unpredicted events, environmental conditions, and poorly chosen previous restoration treatments whose details are often unknown. Scientists and engineers can assist greatly by identifying the changes in the materials, the mechanisms of degradation, and predicting how the object will respond to conservation and display. This knowledge enables conservators to make informed choices about suitable treatments, so the conservation of cultural heritage is truly interdisciplinary.

About The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering

The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) is one of Imperial College London’s Global Institutes, drawing on the strength of its four faculties to address some of the grand challenges facing the world today. The Institute’s activities are focused on tackling problems where molecular innovation plays an important role.

If you have any questions about accessibility requirements please email Leah Adamson (IMSE Events Officer) on l.adamson@imperial.ac.uk

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