Photos in Focus
Using synchrotron spectroscopy to work out the chemistry behind 200-year-old photographs – and raise the profile of a long-neglected artist
Joanna Cummings |
Marine Cotte works in the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France, where her job is to support researchers in their scientific endeavours. A colleague asked for Cotte’s help to analyze some fragments of a photograph produced by pioneer of color photography, Louis Ducos du Hauron.
“I first used infrared microscopy, which allows you to scan two-dimensional regions, define the pixel size and then move from one pixel to another, acquiring an infrared spectrum at each pixel. In this way you can ascertain the molecular composition, as well as see where the molecules are distributed,” Cotte says. “Synchrotron infrared microscopy turned out to be very efficient for the identification of organic components, such as gelatine, celluloid, resin, oil, and so on.”
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