TISCH: Terahertz Imaging & Spectroscopy for Cultural Heritage

  • October 01, 2013
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • UR/LLE, East Lobby


Terahertz pulse imaging and spectroscopy is emerging as a tool of high potential for the nondestructive investigation of historical artworks, architecture and archaeological objects for the purpose of research and conservation. We studied a section of the fresco Trois hommes armés des lances from the Louvre’s Campana collection using time-domain terahertz imaging. The top painting is 19th C, while the support is composed of wall sections recovered from Roman ruins. For this piece, no other technique--including X-ray radiography, XRF, infrared photography, infrared reflectometry and UV florescence--has produced an image of a lost fresco. A composite of the photograph of the section and the composite terahertz image reveals a face hidden beneath the 1st man’s drape. Other examples of this application will also be presented, including a Russian icon, a wall painting from the Riga Dom cathedral and an Egyptian bird mummy.


J. Bianca Jackson is a University of Rochester Postdoctoral Fellow for Diversity and Academic Excellence working for Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester under Dr. Xi-Cheng Zhang, director of the Institute. Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, she received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics from Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2000.  After a brief stint teaching Math and Physics at a Connecticut boarding school, she moved on to receive her MS (2005) and PhD (2008) in Applied Physics from the University of Michigan under the supervision of Dr. John F. Whitaker at the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS).  There she specialized in nondestructive applications of time domain terahertz imaging and spectroscopy, with particular interest in the measurement and diagnostics of multilayered material systems.  Under the advisement of Drs. Gerard Mourou and Michel Menu, she became the first to demonstrate the utility of terahertz reflectometry to cultural heritage conservation science.  In 2008, she became a postdoctoral research scientist in Paris, France working through Ecole Polytechnique’s Institute de la Lumière Extrême (ILE) and Laboratoire d’Optique Appliquée (LOA), as well as the Laboratoires de le Centre de la Recherche et de la Restauration des Musées de France (LC2RMF) to construct a terahertz imaging and spectroscopy laboratory specializing in cultural heritage conservation science at the research facility located at the Louvre Museum.  Her terahertz research application interests include fresco wall paintings, wood panel paintings, wooden objet d’art, ceramics and corroded metal artifacts. 

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