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A new non-invasive technique for parchment diagnosis

A new method allows to study parchments without touching nor destroying them. The approach, which scientists from the Optics and Biosciences Laboratory helped develop, uses non-linear optical microscopy.

Photographie du microscope d'optique non-linéaire du Laboratoire d'Optique et Biosciences (CNRS, École Polytechnique - Institut Polytechnique de Paris - Inserm) avec un parchemin historique de la médiathèque de Chartes en cours d'analyse (Crédit : M. Schmeltz, LOB).Pictures of the nonlinear optical microscope from the Laboratory for Optics and Biosciences (LOB – CNRS, École Polytechnique – Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Inserm) analyzing a historic parchment from the Chartres Library. (Copyright: M. Schmeltz, LOB).

The conservation state of parchments is typically assessed using invasive and sometimes destructive investigation techniques. Scientists from Université Paris-Saclay, the CNRS, École Polytechnique, and the French Ministry of Culture have developed a non-destructive and non-invasive advanced optical imaging technique to quantitatively assess the degradation state of parchments. The approach was validated using artificially-aged samples and then applied to 13th century parchment manuscripts from the renowned collection at the Chartres Library. Their work was published in the journal Science Advances on July 16, 2021.

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> Read the full publication in Science Advances