90845 - Physical Methods of Examining Cultural Property (8 CFU)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Maria Pia Morigi (Modulo 1) Camilla Colla (Modulo 2) Leonardo Brizi (Modulo 3)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2) Traditional lectures (Modulo 3)
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Science for the Conservation-Restoration of Cultural Heritage (cod. 8537)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire: - basic knowledge of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance necessary to understand and correctly apply NMR techniques to the diagnostics of porous materials of interest to Cultural Heritage, with particular attention to portable NMR devices for in situ measurements; - basic knowledge of mechanics of rock materials, of wave propagation in solids, of experimental techniques, instrumentation and procedures to apply on-site non destructive methods based on acoustic and electromagnetic waves such as sonics, ultrasound, GPR radar, Infrared Termography; - basic knowledge of X-ray Digital Radiography and 3D Computed Tomography applied to Cultural Heritage; - basic knowledge of Ion Beam Analytical (IBA) techniques, in particular PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission), PIGE (Particle Induced Gamma-ray Emission) and RBS (Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry).

Course contents

The course is divided into 3 learning modules.

Contents of Module 1:

- Historical notes on X-ray discovery. Production and properties of X-rays.

- Basic interactions of X-rays with matter. Linear attenuation coefficient and Lambert - Beer law.

- Analogue and digital radiography. Basic principles of X-ray Computed Tomography.

- Applications of radiography and 3D Computed Tomography to Cultural Heritage diagnostics.

- Laboratory practice with an acquisition system for digital radiography and Computed Tomography.

- Basic knowledge of Ion Beam Analytical (IBA) techniques. Application of PIXE (Particle Induced X ray Emission), PIGE (Particle Induced Gamma ray Emission) and RBS (Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry) to the analysis of museum objects.


Contents of Module 2:

- Basic concepts of mechanics of solids and materials: stress, strain, constitutive laws, testing. Propagation of elastic waves in solids.

- Principles, equipment, experimental procedures, data analysis and application of non-destructive testing methods: sonic and ultrasonic tests; sonic tomography; georadar; infrared thermography; impact-echo.

Sustainability of existing buildings and their building materials will be treated and investigated in simple practical applications of non-destructive investigation methods.


Contents of Module 3:

- Basic knowledge of porous materials and petrophysical, fluid transport and surface-water interaction properties in porous media: porosity, pore-size distribution, wettability, capillarity. Methods for the measurement of porosity and pore-size distribution.

- Basic knowledge of Magnetic Resonance for fluids in Porous Media: Relaxometry and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, laboratory and portable instruments for in situ measurements, applications to study water content, porosity, pore-size distribution, pore space changes due to decay in porous materials of interest to Cultural Heritage.

- Excercises on standard and portable NMR instruments.

- Discussion about scientific papers on NMR Relaxometry and MRI applied to materials of interest to Cultural Heritage.


V. Kuperman, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Physical Principles and Applications, Academic Press, 2000.

- M. Camaiti, C. Casieri, F. De Luca, P. Fantazzini, C. Terenzi, The use of Portable Single-Sided Relaxometry and Laboratory Imaging NMR Devices in Stone Conservation, Studies in Conservation, 2007; 52: 37-49.

- Camaiti M.; Bortolotti V.; Fantazzini P., Stone Porosity, wettability changes and other features detected by MRI and NMR relaxometry: a more than 15-year study, Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, 2015 53, 34-47DOI:10.1002/mrc4163.

- Giovanni Pascale, Diagnostica con Ultrasuoni, Ed. Flaccovio.

- V.M. Malhotra, N.J. Carino: “Handbook on Nondestructive Testing of Concrete”, CRC Press, USA, 2004.

- M.J. Sansalone, W.B. Street: “Impact-echo”, Bullbrier Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 1997.

- J. Lang, A. Middleton: "Radiography of cultural material", Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005.

- Jiang Hsieh, Computed Tomography: Principles, Design, Artifacts and Recent Advances, Second Edition, SPIE (Bellingham, Washington - USA) and John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, New Jersey), 2009.

- F. Casali, X-ray and Neutron Digital Radiography and Computed Tomography for Cultural Heritage, in "Physical Techniques in the Study of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage", D.C. Creagh and D.A. Bradley Editors, Elsevier 2006.

Copies of Power Point presentations will be available after each lecture on the the online learning platform of Bologna University: https://virtuale.unibo.it 

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures, laboratory practice and study visit.

Assessment methods

The final exam consists of an oral interview on the topics covered in classroom lessons and on laboratory activities, which aims to assess the degree of learning of the contents, the critical and methodological skills and the use of a specific language.

Even though the course is organized in three different modules, the exam will be unique and held by all the teachers in the same day. The final grade will be calculated as the average of the marks obtained by the student in the three teaching modules.

The acquiring of an organic view of the topics discussed in class, along with their critical consideration, the ability to expose the concepts with mastery of the subject and adequate language will be recognized with very good or excellent grades. A mostly mnemonic knowledge of the subjects and a limited ability of synthesis and analysis will lead to grades from discreet to sufficient. Important knowledge gaps and inappropriate language will result in a negative evaluation.

Teaching tools

Video-projector and PC; laboratories and study visit.

The teaching material will be available on the online learning platform of Bologna University: https://virtuale.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Maria Pia Morigi

See the website of Camilla Colla

See the website of Leonardo Brizi


Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.