Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Art Seals Reveal Their Secrets

19.05.2010
Imaging mass spectrometry for analyzing art works

Works of art are valuable and often also very delicate. Their restoration and conservation and their dating and authentication require sophisticated technical methods. A team led by Sichun Zhang at Tsinghua University in Beijing has now developed a new imaging mass spectrometric process to identify paintings and calligraphy without damaging the art pieces. As the scientists report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the secret to the success of this method is a low-temperature plasma probe that gently removes molecules from the surface of the art works.

In mass spectrometry (MS), the substance to be examined is brought into the gas phase and ionized (electrically charged); the ionized particles are then accelerated through by an electric field. Within the analyzer, the particle beam is separated according to the mass and charge of the particles. Imaging mass spectrometric techniques have now also been developed. In this process, the surface of a sample must be scanned and a mass spectrum obtained at every pixel. This technique requires special ionization methods that allow the samples to be examined directly. However, most of the existing imaging mass spectrometric techniques work under vacuum conditions, which limits the size of the samples to be analyzed. In the electrospray technique, solvent molecules carry analyte molecules away from the surface and ionize them.

Delicate works of art such as paintings can however be contaminated and thus damaged by the solvents. The Chinese researchers have now introduced a new variety of imaging MS that operates with a low-temperature plasma probe. This probe essentially consists of a fused capillary and two electrodes made of aluminum foil, to which a very strong alternating voltage is applied. Inside the capillary there is helium gas; the high electric voltage induces what is known as a dielectric barrier discharge in the helium. This means that the helium atoms are in the form of separated ions, electrons, and exited atoms, a state known as a plasma. The temperature of this plasma reaches only 30 °C. The helium plasma leaving the capillary ejects molecules from the surface of the sample and ionizes them. This does not damage valuable works of art.

The scientists used this new technique to analyze seals, which are stamped impressions used as signatures and means of authentication on Chinese paintings and calligraphy. The team was able to use their new microplasma probe to reveal variations in the composition of the ink of individual seals, making it possible to differentiate between authentic and inauthentic seals.

Please note our event "Frontiers of Chemistry" on May 21 in Paris with four Nobel laureates and six other renowned speakers. It will be broadcast live on the internet at chemistryviews.org.

Author: Sichun Zhang, Tsinghua University, Beijing (China), http://chem.tsinghua.edu.cn/zhangxr/xrzhang.htm

Title: Imaging Mass Spectrometry with a Low-Temperature Plasma Probe for the Analysis of Works of Art

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.200906975

Sichun Zhang | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org
http://chem.tsinghua.edu.cn/zhangxr/xrzhang.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>