Laser ablation to preserve great art.
Laser ablation, used to clean part of the angel on the right, worked better than traditional methods, used on the left two angels. The 15th century painting appears on a wall of the Sagrestia Vecchia in Florence, Italy.
DID YOU KNOW?
Laser ablation, which is used to remove unwanted tattoos without scarring skin, is now helping to preserve great sculptures, paintings and other works of art. Salvatore Siano and Renzo Salimbeni of the Applied Physics Institute, CNR (Florence, Italy), describe how laser ablation can clean the surface of some artworks with less damage than mechanical and chemical techniques (Acc. Chem. Res., doi: 10.1021/ar900190f). The method can also be used underwater to clean archeological artifacts that would degrade if exposed to air, such as coins from shipwrecks.
Yvonne Carts-Powell is a freelance science writer who specializes in optics and photonics.