MALAGA, Spain – The composition of historic buildings can be analyzed using laser-induced
breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), report researchers from the University of Malaga.
A team from the laser laboratory in the university’s chemistry
department, led by professor Javier Laserna, has tested LIBS in this capacity. Here,
Laserna gives Photonics Spectra an exclusive look into the test. Other members of
the laboratory who were involved in the study are Dr. Patricia Lucena, Dr. Xavi
Moros, Dr. Fran Fortes and graduate students Inma Gaona, Salvador Guirado and Jorge
Researchers are developing and testing a custom standoff LIBS system
for use in analyzing the composition of buildings and more. Courtesy of professor
Javier Laserna, University of Malaga.
Q: What was the aim of the study? What buildings did you analyze?
A: To analyze and determine the composition of the materials used
for construction of the Cathedral of Malaga, built in the 18th century. We also
aimed at investigating the pollution on the surface of these materials.
Q: What technology and methods did you employ for this project?
Did you develop your own LIBS-based technology/methods or did you use standard components/instruments?
A: We used standoff laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. With
this technology, objects are inspected from a distance of up to 100 m. The instrument
was designed and developed at University of Malaga using components from several
manufacturers. Companies supplying the components were Andor Technology, Quantel
Laser Systems and Optical Guidance Systems, among others.
Q: What were the results of your analysis?
A: Still processing. We discovered that the chemical composition
of marbles differed in several areas of the main facade of the cathedral. These
results are relevant for restoration and cleaning of the monument, as the cleaning
procedures have to be adapted to the nature and composition of the materials. We
also observed significant amounts of iron and manganese on the materials’
surface. These results seem to reveal the sources of contamination of these assets.
Q: What is the next step?
A: We have offered this technology to restoration units from other
historical buildings. Also, standoff LIBS is available for inspecting other assets
such as sculptures, frescoes, ornaments and construction details in building interiors.
It should be noted that the technology does not require installing scaffoldings
or other structures to facilitate system operation. Our campaign at the cathedral
required only one day of work.
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