Identification of precious artefacts: the Sonic Imprint for small artefacts

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Identification of artworks is mainly based on a few characteristics which can be observed using non-invasive tools (sight, touch, simple instruments), the investigated properties being geometry, weight, colours, texture, etc. Nowadays, technology allows reproducing all these characteristics to such an extent that even expert conservators can be deceived: in particular at the present time even the geometry of an artwork can be easily reproduced with the help of laser scanner analysis and with a rapid prototyping machine or a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine. We propose a new tool, the Sonic Imprint, producing a code capable of identifying a rigid artefact from its vibrational resonance frequencies beyond doubt. In fact the vibration modes of an artefact strongly depend on the spatial distributions of its density and elastic parameters, as well as on its internal defects, definable in terms of abrupt changes of elastic properties in a small portion of the object. Then even small differences of these properties (differences usually present even among “identical” objects produced with industrial methods, at least in terms of defects) give appreciable variations of the Sonic Imprint codes, allowing secure identification of artworks, prevention of clonation and even damage monitoring. Moreover the procedure is really robust, rapid, inexpensive and not invasive. We tested it on a large number of commercial objects with the same shape and dimension and on many artworks in archaeological museums: an example is described. The application of this methodology to small-size artefacts (from small stones, vessels, pottery to medium-large coins) involves some problems in the detection of the Sonic Imprint. The problems, just due to the smaller sizes of this kind of objects, arise from the presence of higher resonance frequencies and larger damping of the induced vibrations. This implies that probes and instrumentation should be replaced to be adapted to the new experimental conditions.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)111-117
Numero di pagine7
RivistaCurrent Analytical Chemistry
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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