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Fighting art forgery: Research project provides more effective means of detection

The aim of the research project was the development of spectroscopic analysis methods for the comprehensive chemical characterization of paper with regard to the detection of art and document forgeries. The focus was on the application of Raman microscopy. The new methods also provide results for the evaluation of the conservation status of papers for the derivation of archiving and conservation measures.

With the project results, users have new, more effective means at their disposal in the fight against art forgery and for the preservation of art and cultural objects.

The main results of the research project are as follows:

  • new measuring and preparation methods for non-destructive spectroscopic analysis of papers
  • new insights into the possibilities of spectroscopic analysis of paper using ATR-IR spectroscopy, Raman microscopy (see figure) and NIR imaging technologynew knowledge on the detailed chemical composition of old and modern papers
  • Development of new spectral imaging evaluation methods for the analysis of the measurement data as well as for the visualization and evaluation of the chemical paper structure.
  • Successful demonstration and application of the developed measurement and evaluation methods in the investigation of documents and works of art.

The results of the research project have demonstrated and considerably expanded the possibilities of spectroscopic chemical paper analysis. The application of the new measuring and evaluation methods results in new possibilities for insights into old papermaking technologies, for the determination of paper age, for the evaluation of the state of preservation of paper as well as for forensic paper investigation with regard to the detection of art and document forgeries.

Figure: Raman image of the cross-section of a 19th century paper with the detected constituents.

The project objective was achieved.

The results were obtained within the framework of the research project IK-MF 150045, which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) through the project management organisation EuroNorm Gesellschaft für Qualitätssicherung und Technologie mbH in accordance with a resolution of the German Bundestag under the programme "Promotion of Research and Development of Growth Agents in Disadvantaged Regions". We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks.