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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 5 (2007) pp 349-352

Near-Infared Imaging of Paintings: Looking for Deeper Meaning

Frederick G. Haibach,,* Maria A. Gomez, Edward Fitzgerald, and Kristin E. Paczkowski

Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA, 01075 and Polychromix, Inc., 30 Upton Dr, Wilmington, MA 01887,
Received June 24, 2006. Accepted April 18, 2007.

Published online: 4 September 2007

Abstract. Near-infrared (NIR) imaging can be used as a discovery-based investigation of how the interaction of light with pigment and dyes changes with wavelength. The investigation has three primary pedagogical goals: (1) extending the student’s previous experience with color to the whole of spectroscopy, (2) introducing diffuse reflectance as a useful analytical tool, and (3) emphasizing quantitative skills. The experiment utilizes readily available equipment and materials. The imaging aspect aids the students in bridging the divide between visible color and optical spectroscopy, because the features in the images remain largely the same. The investigation is designed to span a single four-hour general chemistry laboratory.  The topic can be extended to upper division courses by further investigation of the visible-NIR diffuse reflectance spectrum and the spectral response of the imaging system.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytical chemistry; dyes; pigments; spectroscopy; imaging

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (248 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

A student handout and instructor’s supplement are available as supporting material (861 KB).

Issue date: October 1, 2007

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