Teaching Staff: Anna Maria GUELI
Credit Value: 6
Scientific field: FIS/07 - Applied physics
Taught classes: 21 hours
Laboratories: 45 hours
Term / Semester:

Learning Objectives

The aim of the course is the achievement by the student of physics applied to Cultural Heritage. Specific objective is the knowledge of basic physical principles for the application of the principal methods for the characterization and dating of materials. Particular attention is given to the techniques used for the study of paintings and polychrome works as well as the methodologies that allow to establish the absolute chronology of pottery, bricks, mortar, geological sediments and speleothems.

Knowledge and understanding

Critical understanding of the most advanced developments in Modern Physics in both theoretical and laboratory aspects and their interconnections, even in interdisciplinary fields.

Adequate knowledge of advanced mathematical and computer tools of current use in the fields of basic and applied research.

High level of competence in the scientific method, and understanding of the nature and methodologies of research in Physics.


Applying knowledge and understanding

Ability to identify the essential elements of a phenomenon, in terms of order of magnitude and level of approximation necessary, and be able to make the required approximations.

Ability to use the analogy tool to apply known solutions to new problems (problem solving).

Ability to design and implement experimental and theoretical procedures to solve problems of academic and industrial research or to improve existing results.

Ability to use analytical and numerical mathematical calculation tools and information technology, including the development of software programs.

Ability to develop new and original approaches and methods.


Making judgements

Ability to work with increasing degrees of autonomy, also assuming responsibility in the planning and management of projects.

Awareness of safety problems in laboratory work.

Ability to discuss personal interpretations of physical phenomena, confronting each other in the context of work groups.

Development of a sense of responsibility through the choice of optional courses and the subject of the degree thesis.


Communication skills

Ability to communicate in Italian and English in the advanced fields of Physics.

Ability to present their research activity or of scientific data review results to both specialist and nonspecialist audiences;

Ability to work in an interdisciplinary group, adapting the modalities of expression to interlocutors of different culture.


Learning skills

Ability to acquire adequate cognitive tools for the continuous updating of knowledge.

Ability to access specialized literature both in the chosen field and in scientifically close fields.

Ability to use databases and bibliographic and scientific resources to extract information and suggestions for better focusing and developing personal study and research work.

Course Structure

The course is taught in english through lectures and teaching interactive laboratory classes.

Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes with respect to previous statements, in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus.

Detailed Course Content

Introduction: Applications of the sciences to study, conservation and restoration in Cultural Heritage.

Color and colorimetry: Optics for color measurements and specification. Physiology of vision and color perception. Fundamentals of photometry and colorimetry basics. Optical properties of bodies and materials. Color representation. Color specification.

Imaging techniques: Electron microscopy. Signals from Scanning Electron Microscopy: images using secondary electrons, back-scattered electrons and X-rays. RGB imaging, IR reflectrometry and UV images.

Raman Spettrometry: Classical and quantum theory of raman effect. Experimental set-up and signals detection. Application in Cultural Heritage.

Luminescence Dating: Thermoluminescence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). Physical principles. Age equation. Palaeodose and annula Dose determination. Authenticity testing. Dating of artifacts, sediments and architectural elements.

ESR Dating: Electron Spin Resonance Spectrometry. Classical and quantum theory of resonance phenomena. Zeeman interaction, fine and hyperfine structures. ESR spectrometer.

Textbook Information

Aitken, M.J , Thermoluminescence Dating, Academic Press Inc.

Aitken, M.J , Science-based Dating in Archaeometry, Longman Archaeology Series

Aitken, M.J , Optical dating of sediments, Academic Press Inc.

Aldrovandi A., Picollo M., 2007, Metodi di documentazione e indagini non invasive sui dipinti, Il Prato Editore (collana I talenti), 112 p., 2 ed.

Edwards H. and Vandenabeele P., 2012, Analytical Archaeometry: Selected Topics, The Royal Society of Chemistry

Ferraro J.R., Nakamoto K., Brown C.W., Introductory Raman Spectroscopy, Academic Press, 2003

Goldstein J., Newbury D.E., Joy D.C., Lyman C.E. , Echlin P., Lifshin E., Sawyer L., Michael J.R., 2003, Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-ray Microanalysis, Springer, 695 p., 3 ed.

Gonzalez R. C., Woods R. E., 2008, Elaborazioni delle immagini digitali, Pearson, 840 p., 3 ed.

Ikeya M., New application of Electron Spin Resonance – Dating, Dosimetry and Microscopy, World Scientific

Lewis I.R., Edwards H.G.M., Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy, Marcel Dekker, 2001

Long D. A., The Raman effect, John Wiley and sons Editor

Martini M., Milazzo M., Piacentini M., Physics Methods in Archaeometry

Oleari C., Standard Colorimetry: Definitions, Algorithms and Software, 2016, John Wiley Sons Inc

Tilley R.J.D., 2011, Colour and the optical properties of materials., Wiley, 510 p.

Turrell G. and Corset J., Raman Microscopy: Developments and Applications, Elsevier Academic Press, 1996.

Wyszecki G., Stiles W.S., 2000, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Quantitative Data and Formulae, John Wiley & Sons, 968 p., 3 ed.

Lecture notes provided during the course.