Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Analysis of artworks and artifacts

AccelerationAccelerazioneCultural HeritageEredità culturaleLaser-driven particleParticella laser-drivenPIXE


In this invention, laser-generated particle beams are proposed as diagnostic for materials of interest in the domain of Cultural Heritage in particular to produce particle-induced X-ray and Gamma-ray emission spectroscopies (PIXE/PIGE).

Technical features

Up to current, this probing technique, also Proton Induced Particle Emission (PIXE) is based on the use of conventional accelerators for accelerating the protons. The analyzed targets are irradiated by a monoenergetic proton beam and emit characteristic X-rays, that allow to characterize the probed material and as such to detect possible damaging elements (e.g. oxides). The as generated proton beams are monoenergetic and with low flux. These characteristics limit the material analysis to the first 10µm under surface without a specific control in the investigated layer depth and surface. Researchers invented and developed a new diagnostics based on laser accelerated proton beams that probes matter more efficiently and in a shorter timescale than existing technology. In details, the multi-energetic laser accelerated beams (energy ranging between 500 keV and 40 MeV) allow analyzing until 100µm under the surface, easily changing the size of investigated area.

Possible Applications

  • PIXE is one of the most favored techniques in the domain of the Cultural Heritage, where the main challenge is to obtain the most information available without creating damage to the probing artifact.


  • Complete chemical analysis on a larger volume of the artworks;
  • A deeper and more precise “layer by layer” analysis and, depending on the facility, a higher punctual dose (obtained in one or more shots);
  • It provokes a similar if not less damage when probing the sample.