Instrumental Analysis

From Wiki

While some analytical equipment can be safely operated by conservators other equipment requires scientists, and particularly conservation scientists, to conduct the analytical testing. Conservators must be prepared to work with them and at a minimum understand what tests may be appropriate for an artifact and how to evaluate the results. Wikipedia provides valuable information on various analytical techniques. The purpose of these wiki pages is to provide a basic overview and focus on how various instrumental analytical techniques are used in the field of art conservation and conservation science.

Sampling methods: Proper sampling is a challenging aspect of any analytical method. Expertise can and should be developed . For more information about sampling, see below or the Environmental Testing page.

***This information is intended to be used by conservators and conservation scientists for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute for the consultation of someone familiar with both this technique and conservation issues. Please consult with an expert before using the equipment described below.***

Instrumental Analytical Techniques

n.b. - To create an Instrumental Analytical Technique entry, use the template found at the bottom of this page



  • X-Radiography (X-ray absorption)
  • IR Reflectography
  • Beta Radiography
  • Neutron Auto-Radiography




  • Ion Chromatography (IC)
  • Liquid Chromatography (LC)
  • Gas Chromatography (GC)
  • Sample introduction techniques for GC
  • Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization (MALDI)
  • Atmospheric Ionization




Instrumental Analytical Technique template

29 September 2020 - this template was updated by the Materials Working Group (MWG). Please use this template to generate Instrumental Analytical Technique entries.


  • Technique:
  • Formal name:
  • Summary description of this technique [prose]
  • Sample image of the data [insert image here]


  • What this techniques measures (compound classes, physical structures, etc)
  • Limitations of this technique (egs: doesn't detect metals, must have certain quantities present, reproducibility, etc)
  • Can/how can this technique be made quantitative?


  • Phases it can be used to examine (gas, liquid, solid)
  • Is this technique non-destructive?
  • How invasive is this technique?
  • Minimum size of sample necessary to use this technique?
  • Time to run one experiment?
  • Sample preparation methods [ed note: feel free to add references like ASTM or ISO methods, including numbers and name]


  • Examples of how this technique is used in the field?
  • Risks associated with using this technique?


  • Approximate cost to purchase equipment for this technique?
  • Annual cost to maintain or run?
  • Sample analysis costs?
  • Time it may take to get results from a contract laboratory?

CASE STUDIES [provide description and links]


  • Complementary Techniques [describe and link]
  • Variations of this technique [describe and link]

REFERENCES [Resources, databases, publications {Authors (year). Title Journal, volume, pages.}]

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