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Indiana Museum Explores Art with Novel Microscopy Tech

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INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17, 2011 — The Indianapolis Museum of Art has installed a “Shuttle & Find” correlative microscopy package from Carl Zeiss of Oberkochen, Germany, for its state-of-the-art conservation science laboratory. The package enables direct communication between Zeiss’s electron and light microscopes in the lab, which is expected to accelerate the examination of artwork samples.

A correlative light and electron microscopy comparison of exact location on a cross-section sample with (a) dark-field, (b) backscattered electrons (BSE) and (c) a 50:50 mixture of dark-field and BSE images. Arrows indicate translucent particles (dark-field) containing lead (BSE). (Images: Business Wire)

Each type of microscope offers distinctive ways to examine and analyze paintings and other types of artwork, but it is challenging to switch between instruments quickly and precisely. The “Shuttle & Find” package consists of software and hardware components, including a specialized specimen holder and adapters for specimen transfer — in the museum’s lab, this usually is a tiny paint sample —. Along with the package, the museum also is equipped with a scanning electron microscope, compound microscope, stereomicroscope, polarized light microscope and surgical microscope, all from Zeiss.

A sample holder with adapter is mounted into the vacuum chamber of a scanning electron microscope.

The laboratory answers materials analysis questions for curators and conservators, conducts technical analysis of artwork, and performs applied and basic scientific research into artists’ materials and techniques. Microscopes play an integral role in the work of the conservation science laboratory, which uses a materials approach to art history, providing evidence of an artist’s materials or working methods, authenticating an artwork, or assisting in its attribution.

“The concept of performing our imaging work with trouble-free transfer of the sample from the light microscope to the electron microscope, and retrieval of the region of interest within seconds, intrigued me,” said Gregory Dale Smith, senior conservation scientist at the museum.

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Aug 2011
Americasartwork analysisBusinessCarl Zeisscompound microscopesconservation science laboratoryconservatorscorrelative microscopy packagecuratorselectron microscopesEuropeGermanyGregory Dale SmithimagingIndianaIndianapolis Museum of Artlight microscopesmaterials analysisMicroscopypolarized light microscopesscanning electron microscopesShuttle & Findspecimen holdersstereomicroscopessurgical microscopes

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