Since 1990, INO has been working in the field of cultural heritage diagnostics, an activity that led to the establishment of the heritage science group – HSG, a research unit devoted to the study and experimentation of innovative optical techniques as well as to the design and creation of advanced instruments for the study of works of art.<br /><br />
The research is aimed at the development of optical methodologies and opto-electronic devices for the non-invasive analysis of cultural heritage. Techniques and instruments are developed and implemented within research projects, both national and international, carried out in close collaboration with the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (OPD), prominent international research centres, conservation institutes, and museums inside the Prototypes Development Lab. The prototypes are perfected through repeated and systematic interactions with experts (e.g. conservators), thanks to the logistic support of the Optical Metrology Lab hosted inside the Restoration Laboratory of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Fortezza da Basso, Florence), opened in 1998. The research experience carried out in this lab is relevant, thanks to the synergistic interaction with conservators and art historians, leading to the realization and improvement of innovative diagnostic systems, whose effectiveness is verified daily. As an example, the VIS-NIR multispectral scanner is part of the MOLAB (Mobile LABoratory) program, a platform providing access to cutting-edge instrumentation within European projects (such as Eu-ARTECH, CHARISMA, IPERION CH and the ongoing IPERION HS project).<br /><br />
The HSG’s expertise includes: area-wise techniques (UV-VIS-NIR reflectance, UV fluorescence), spectroscopic techniques (Raman spectroscopy, UV-VIS-IR spectroscopy), methods for 3D survey (surface topography by optical scanning), Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), non-linear optics techniques (MPEF – Multi-Photon Excitation Fluorescence, SHG – Second Harmonic Generation, THG – Third Harmonic Generation), photo-acoustic techniques. In each area, the Group has several lines of research.<br /><br />
Diagnostic activities are also carried out, with the dual purpose of validating the technical solutions by applying them to a variety of objects, and making the end-users aware of the possibilities offered by the developed cutting-edge technologies.