Paint chips carbon dating
Researchers from ETH Zurich have refined a process that can detect modern fakes of paintings by measuring excessive levels of the isotope carbon-14 released into the atmosphere through nuclear testing in the 20th century.The new method requires significantly smaller samples of paint than was previously necessary, with a case study demonstrating accuracy dating from a single paint particle weighing under 200 micrograms.Two microsamples from the painting were analyzed, one tiny fiber from the canvas, and a single paint particle weighing around 160 micrograms.Carbon dating of the canvas fiber was consistent with the alleged age of the painting, suggesting the forger cleverly utilized an old canvas to create the fake.Forensic scientists are sometimes called to help analyze evidence left from a hit-and-run or possible case of arson.They have special techniques to study what's often small or extremely damaged evidence.As atmospheric levels of carbon-14 have been consistently declining since open-air nuclear testing ceased in the 1960s, ivory samples can be accurately aged to within a few years by tracing those specific levels.That research startlingly discovered more than 90 percent of shipments seized between 20 were actually just a few years old and not antique ivory from pre-1976.
This isn't the first time scientists have utilized this incredibly novel metric to identify illegal activities.
They examine the sample under a polarized light microscope to view its different layers.
Then they can use one of several tests to analyze the sample: Arson Investigations To light a fire, arsonists need a flammable material and an accelerant (such as kerosene or gas).
At the same time, art forgers have become more and more savvy to these potential identification techniques and deployed increasingly sophisticated methods to evade detection.
Not only do some forgeries now utilize old wooden frames, but some fakers even scrape paint off old artworks and re-use it.
However, the team from ETH Zurich has, for the first time, managed to improve detection methods so a sample of paint no more than 200 micrograms is needed to measure carbon-14 levels.