Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is especially attractive for the study of cultural heritage artifacts because it is noninvasive and nondestructive. We have developed an original full-field time-domain OCT system dedicated to the investigation of varnished and painted artifacts: an interferometric Mirau objective allows one to perform the scan without moving the works of art. The axial and transverse high resolution (respectively, 1.5 and ) are well adapted to the detection of the investigated structures (pigment grains, wood fibers, etc.). The illumination spectrum is in the visible range (centered at , wide) to potentially allow us to perform spectroscopic OCT on pigment particles. The examination of wood samples coated with a traditional finish, demonstrates the ability of the system to detect particles, characterize layers thickness, and image the three-dimensional wood structures below the varnishes. OCT has finally been applied to study in situ the coated wood surface of an 18th century Italian violin and provides important information for its conservation treatment.
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