Course Unit Page


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

Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student knows the elements of physical principles of interest for Cultural Heritage conservation and analysis, being able to understand the physical phenomena involved in degradation processes and used in diagnostics for Cultural Heritage. Moreover, the student is be able to understand the basic connection between Environment and Cultural Heritage. In particular, he/she is be able to develop indoor and outdoor air quality monitoring; identify environmental factors that affect Cultural Heritage; apply appropriate environmental management procedures in the urban areas.

Course contents

Physical principles and application of non invasive, non destructive and micro-destructive techniques

Physical quantities, measurement units, scientific notation, error analysis; examples of physical quantities: speed, acceleration, force, energy

Electric charge, Couloumb law; electric field, electric potential, electric current, magnetic filed.

Waves mechanics, electromagnetic waves, fundamental of optics, interference and diffraction, electromagnetic spectrum, visible light, principles of geometric and wave optics, refractive index, reflection and refraction laws, colour and colorimetry.

Matter-Radiation interaction, Application of the use of electromagnetic radiation to the analyses of works of art: reflectography, radiography, tomography

Temperature, thermometric scales, thermal dilatation, heat transmission. phase transformation, specific, absolute and relative humidity.

Basic of atmoshere structure and composition; thermal and adiabatic gradient, pollutant dispersion and deposition.

Radiocativity, atomic nucleus, mass and binding energies, alpha, beta and gamma radiocative decay law, environmental radioactivity, dosimetry, introduction to radio-dating and thermoluminescence.

Micro-climate analysis and control

In the laboratory part of the course, the scientific methods applied to the study of cultural heritage are shown through the analyses of case studies on different artefacts and materials and through laboratory activity.  The objective of the course is the knowledge of the different techniques appliable to the conservation of  historical-artistic objects for the analyses of the constituent materials and of the production techniques and as a basic tool for the conservative interventions:
- Visible Reflectance Spectroscopy VIS-RS
- IR Reflectography; UV Fluorescence
- X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry EDS-XRF
- Optical Microscopy

Moreover, a complete analysis of the thermo-hygrometric parameters is realised in an actual case, form planning to data handling and evaluation with the goal of material conservation


The slides will be available on virtuale.unibo.it. The lecturer will highlight recommended reading for each lecture.

The following books can be consulted as references to the specific physical methodologies described in the course:

A. Aldrovandi, M. Picollo, Metodi di documentazione e indagini non invasive sui dipinti, Padova, Il Prato, 2001.

C.Oleari (a cura di), Misurare il colore. Hoepli, Milano, 1998.

C.Seccaroni, P.Moioli, Fluorescenza X. Prontuario per l'analisi XRF portatile applicata a superfici policrome, Nardini, Firenze, 2002

A.Bernardi, Conservare opere d’arte. Il microclima negli ambienti museali, Il Prato, Padova, 2004.

Oggetti nel tempo: principi e tecniche di conservazione preventiva, a cura dell'Istituto per i beni artistici culturali e naturali della regione Emilia-Romagna, Servizio musei e beni culturali]. - Bologna : Clueb, 2007. http://online.ibc.regione.emilia-romagna.it/h3/h3.exe/apubblicazioni/t?ISBN=978884912866

Teaching methods

Lectures and practical sessions.

Assessment methods

The exam consists in intermediary tests, oral and practical, during the laboratory practice and in an oral exame to appraise the critical and methodological abilities matured by the student. The intermediate tests and the oral exam aim at verifying the acquisition of the knowledges of the program of the course.

The intermediary tests of laboratory have the purpose to verify the abilities acquired in the application of the diagnostic methods for cultural heritage described during the course. The oral exam aim to verify the theoretical knowledges acquired during the course and the ability to plan the bases of a diagnostic investigation for a conservative intervention.

The student's ability to learn how to operate with confidence and autonomy within the secondary literature and the possession of a language and forms of expression appropriate to the discipline will be assessed. The acquiring of an organic view of the topics discussed in class, along with their critical consideration, a demonstration of mastery and mature expression will be recognized with good marks or excellence. Knowledge, mostly mnemonic of the subject matter, non-articulated synthesis and analysis, and/or language does not always lead to the appropriate marks ranging from discreet to sufficient. Important gaps in training, inappropriate use of language, lack of orientation within the boundaries of the topics and the bibliographic materials proposed by the course will inevitably lead to a barely sufficient grade or a negative rating.

Teaching tools

For the practical lessons of the course in the Diagnostic Laboratory at the Department of Cultural Heritage, the following instrumental facilities are available:
Tools and materials for collection and preparation of samples, Optical Microscopy, Multi-spectral imaging system, Visible reflectance spectroscopy VIS-RS,
Portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy EDS-XRF, Scanning Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis SEM-EDS; T and RH data loggers.

Office hours

See the website of Mariangela Vandini

See the website of Serena Righi

See the website of Maria Pia Morigi