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Using optical spectroscopy to characterize the material of a 16th c. stained glass window

Publication date 2012
B-Phot Authors Andrea Ceglia, Wendy Meulebroeck, Hilde Wouters, Hugo Thienpont
DOI 10.1117/12.981436
Citation
A. Ceglia et al., “Using optical spectroscopy to characterize the material of a 16th c. stained glass window,” presented at the Proc. SPIE Integrated Approaches to the study of historical glass - IAS12, 2012, vol. 8422, p. 84220A.
Abstract In this paper we studied the transmittance spectra of a collection of several glass samples taken from a 16th century stained window of the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. We recorded the optical spectra for all the samples in the region between 350 and 1600 nm. The goal of our research was to reveal information about the composition of the glass artifacts in a fast and non-destructive way. Analysis of the optical spectra allowed us in the first place to identify the type of colorants that were used. It was possible to recognize metal ions, such as Fe2+, Fe3+, Co2+, Mn3+, Cr3+ and Cu2+. Also colors made of metal nanoparticles, such as silver and copper colloids were successfully identified. The recognition of the coloring agents is of particular interest in dating the glass pieces. This is because some colorants were only used in certain periods. Green glass colored by chromium was produced only after the mid 19th century onwards. Our study showed that 3 of the 10 pieces were colored by this element and they originate as such from a later period. A second conclusion refers to the applied fluxing agent. By analyzing the spectral position of the first cobalt absorption band, we were able to classify the glass pieces as potash based (used in medieval times) or soda-based (used in modern times) and therefore to classify them as original or as restoration material. From the 10 blue colored samples, 7 of them were recognized as original material. Finally, for the naturally colored parts the analysis of the spectra allowed us to group them based on cobalt impurities.
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