Like us on Facebook!

Company Blog


By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

April 15, 2013

Thermal Quasi-Reflectography For Art Conservation

(a) Color Photo; (b) Near Infrared -NIR; (c) Mid-Wave Thermal Infrared; Note: helmet detail in photo ‘c’

In recent times, art restorers have employed lasers and other sophisticated imaging techniques by other infrared techniques or Ultraviolet and X-ray to reveal details not present to the naked eye. Over time wall murals are re-touched, many times painting over original details unrecoverable by past imaging tools.  Now a team of Italian researchers from the University of L’Aquila, the University of Verona, and Italy’s National Institute of Optics in Florence, have developed the latest imaging tool that can bring back these features for future restoration, and may even give more details about pigments used long ago.

This technique known as Thermal Quasi-Reflectography (TQR), takes advantage of reflected infrared light from the mid-infrared part of the spectrum (3-5 micrometers in wavelength). Why specifically the mid-infrared portion of the spectrum?  Because certain materials shine more brightly in one wavelength than in others.  At normal room temperature, paintings typically emit more invisible light in the longer infrared wavelengths than they do in the mid-infrared. These researchers came up with the idea of flooding the works of art with these normally scant (1.1%) mid-infrared wavelengths (using halogen lights a great sources of mid-IR) to see what detail reflects back with an infrared camera. Unlike traditional thermal imaging techniques reading the heat differences reflected represented by individual pigments, or the less detailed reflection of light in the Near Infrared (NIR), the TQR system reveals new details of great works of art.

The researchers were careful the halogen lams were place far away enough not to produce heat on the art which would defeat the process creating longer wavelengths.  “For mural paintings the use of the mid-infrared regions reveals crucial details,” said Daffara. “This makes TQR a promising tool for the investigation of these artworks.”



  1. Can’t believe your blog is for free. At minimum I would expect some ads on this very popular site. I like how you do it for the love of science. Here’s to your continued success.

    Comment by Erline — April 15, 2013 @ 21:57


  3. Great post.

    Some countries could really use this art conservation technique. Very interesting. Cheers.

    Trackback by Cesar K. — May 1, 2013 @ 11:14


  5. Glad to see these works will get a new updated look.

    Trackback by baidu — May 10, 2013 @ 10:21


  7. Wonder what would be created if they infused a blend of short, long, and mid infrared wavelengths? Could be interesting.

    Comment by Mark — May 12, 2013 @ 16:16


  9. I was just wondering what is the effective range of this thermal cameras? And also; Is it possible to recognize a rabbit hiding in the bushes with your camera? In other words, can a camera record the thermal image of a rabbit hiding in a thick bush? I am a hunter and I am very interested!

    Comment by Echi — May 29, 2013 @ 08:37


  11. Really appreciate you sharing this blog article. Much obliged.

    Comment by max 87 — June 1, 2013 @ 00:07


  13. This is a very very good write-up, like it, of course. I think this post boost my understanding. Thank you!

    Trackback by ralph lauren — June 3, 2013 @ 14:10


  15. Wish there was a youtube video presentation of this technology.

    Comment by meizitang slimming — June 5, 2013 @ 20:15


  17. ‘Thermal Quasi-Reflectography’ New Infrared Art Conservation Tool « Lumistar: Thermal Imaging Blog

    Comment by pai you guo — June 6, 2013 @ 20:54


  19. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. Thanks for the post….

    Trackback by lunette ray ban — June 10, 2013 @ 09:38


  21. Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my friend! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you.

    Trackback by Jordan Italia — June 13, 2013 @ 04:31


  23. Chinese Art could use a scan like this.

    Comment by jacyadjurry — July 9, 2013 @ 09:04


  25. All new details are hopefully fully cataloged. It would be an interesting coffee table book. Putting it out there.

    Comment by Lee Foo — July 10, 2013 @ 11:59


  27. Your web site is really useful. Many thanks for sharing. By the way, how could we keep in touch?

    Comment by mail to Barcelone — July 19, 2013 @ 16:35


  29. It`s really useful! Looking through the Internet you can mostly observe watered down information, something like bla bla bla, but not here to my deep surprise. It makes me happy..!

    Comment by YES — July 20, 2013 @ 20:32


  31. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I am appreciating it very much! Looking forward to another great article.

    Comment by John77 — July 28, 2013 @ 04:13


  33. LEaving ComMent.

    Comment by mailtosender — July 31, 2013 @ 10:10


  35. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you have done a superb job with this. Also, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Chrome. Outstanding Blog!

    Comment by Carl in Texas — August 1, 2013 @ 00:46


  37. I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed some nice methods and we are looking to exchange methods with others, why not shoot me an email if interested.

    Comment by Bill — August 1, 2013 @ 19:15


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.