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Maria Pia Morigi

Associate Professor

Department of Physics and Astronomy "Augusto Righi"

Academic discipline: FIS/07 Applied Physics

Director of Second Cycle Degree in Science for the Conservation-Restoration of Cultural Heritage


Keywords: Digital radiography High energy electron beam dosimetry X-ray Computed Tomography Multispectral imaging Cultural Heritage

- Development of acquisition systems for Digital Radiography and 3D Computed Tomography with X-ray beams of various energies. These techniques are used not only for applications in the medical field, but also for non-destructive testing on objects of interest in the industrial and Cultural Heritage fields.

- Development of innovative dosimetric systems for high energy electron beams used in Intra Operative Radiation Theraphy (I.O.R.T.).

- Application of multispectral imaging in the field of Cultural Heritage.

X-ray Digital Radiography and Computed Tomography: since several years the research activity of our group is devoted to the development of innovative acquistion systems for Digital Radiography and Computed Tomography (CT) with X-ray sources of various energies. We have set-up several CT systems, able to perform non-destructive investigations on samples of different size and composition, with variable spatial resolutions. Besides the medical field, CT has found applications also in the industrial and in the Cultural Heritage fields, thanks to its capability to produce cross-sectional images of the investigated object in a non-destructive way. Our group has been recently involved in the European research project DETECT (New Product Design and Engineering Technologies based on next Generation Computed Tomography), for the development of a tomographic system for industrial applications (CT of motor heads), with X-ray energies up to 450 keV. Moreover, in the framework of a research contract with the italian firm ELCA (Imola), a CT system devoted to teeth imaging was realized and now it is on the market.. As far as the Cultural Heritage field is concerned, we have recently set-up a system for the tomographic investigation of large size objects. With this system we have performed the CT analysis of several works of art under restoration at “Opificio delle Pietre Dure” (among which it is worth mentioning "The Goldfinch Madonna", the famous masterpiece by Raffaello) in Florence and on the big terrestrial globe by Egnazio Danti located in Palazzo Vecchio (Florence) . Moreover, a collaboration with the Center for Conservation and Restoration “La Venaria Reale” in Turin has been started for the investigation of ancient japanese statues made of wood. Moreover from 2012, within the project "Innovative diagnostic tools for Artistic and Cultural Heritage", funded by the Center Fermi in Rome, a research activity  is in progress concerning the development of a transportable tomographic system with an X-ray source of medium-high energy (> 300 keV), dedicated to the analysis of highly radiopaque works of art and archaeological finds. This research activity is also co-funded by INFN.


Dosimetry of high energy electron beams used in Intra Operative Radiation Theraphy (IORT): IORT is a is a special therapeutic technique that is used as an adjuvant to surgery . It involves the delivery in a single fraction of a high dose of ionising radiation to the tumoral bed, immediately after surgical ablation of the tumour and before closing the wound . For this kind of treatment mobile linear accelerators conceived for direct use in the surgical room are generally used. The dose rate delivered by these accelerators is higher compared to standard linear accelerators. This feature introduces serious problems in the analysis of doses measured by standard dosimetric systems and justifies the research of new devices for the measurements of dose in IORT. The dosimeter we are developing is based on the coupling of scintillating fiber optics bundles with linear arrays of photodiodes as read-out systems for the light produced in the fibers as a consequence of electron interactions.


Applications of multi-spectral imaging in the field of Cultural Heritage: Multi-spectral imaging, based on the acquisition of digital images in different spectral ranges, is frequently used as a diagnostic technique in the field of Cultural Heritage. For example, infrared reflectography is used since many years for the investigation of paintings on wood or canvas. In fact it enables the visualization of details underneath the visible surface of a painting, such as underdrawing and pentimenti, thanks to the partial transparency of the painted layer when subjected to IR radiation. Multispectral imaging can also be used for the investigation of ancient manuscripts and parchments.

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