“Feasibility of ultrafast picosecond laser cleaning of soiling on historical leather buckles” by Elnaggar et al (2016)

Elnaggar, Abdelrazek; Fitzsimons, Paul; Lama, Anne; Fletcher, Yvette; Antunes, Paula; Watkins, K. G., “Feasibility of ultrafast picosecond laser cleaning of soiling on historical leather buckles”, Heritage Science 4 (2016) 30.
DOI:10.1186/s40494-016-0104-3 (SpringerOpen, open access)

The aim of the research is to present a system recently developed and used for automated cleaning of artworks and to examine the suitability of using this ultrafast and precise computed-scanning picosecond laser (1064 nm) with a repetition rate of 10 kHz and a temporal pulse length of 10 ps for the removal of soiling from leather buckles without damaging the leather substrate. Preliminary tests will be performed with the model artificially aged vegetable tanned samples to determine the leather damage threshold fluence and the soiling ablation threshold fluence before using a laser for the removal of the soiling from a historical leather buckle. As laser cleaning requires a physical parameterization for optimization of cleaning accompanied with an assessment of the morphological and chemical changes of leather, an investigations were performed to determine the leather damage and ablation threshold fluences of artificially aged and historical vegetable tanned leather using a number of analytical techniques including differential scanning calorimetry, optical microscopy, scanning electronic microscope with energy dispersive X-ray analysis, colorimetry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy have been used. Following optimization trials of the picosecond laser cleaning parameters on model leather samples, satisfactory removal of the soiling over the historical leather surface is achieved.