Table of Contents
Laser Chemistry
Volume 2006, Article ID 75831, 7 pages
Research Article

Laser Cleaning Tests on Archaeological Copper Alloys Using an ND:YAG Laser

Department of Conservation, Documentation and Science, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK

Received 14 September 2006; Revised 3 November 2006; Accepted 6 November 2006

Academic Editor: Costas Fotakis

Copyright © 2006 Capucine Korenberg and Alexandra Baldwin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Laser cleaning tests were performed on five archaeological copper alloy objects using a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser at 1064 nm. As a comparison, a section of each object was cleaned mechanically. Prior to cleaning, cross-sections were prepared to characterise the corrosion crust and help to locate the position of the original surface. Laser cleaning was not successful at removing burial deposits on two of the objects. For the other three objects, the laser removed most of the corrosion crust. This was not always satisfactory, as cleaning was sometimes accompanied by the loss of the original surface. In addition, laser-cleaned surfaces were matt compared to mechanically cleaned surfaces. In some instances, the former had a disfiguring purple hue which was attributed to the formation of particles that could be seen when examining the surface using scanning electron microscopy. For all the objects examined here, superior results were obtained by mechanical cleaning.