Time through colors: Past present and future of pigments and paintings, exploring diagnostics, dating and conservation in cultural heritage


Chiriu Daniele Chiriu

Daniele Chiriu

Dept. of Physics, University of Cagliari, Italy

Porcu Stefania Porcu

Stefania Porcu

Dept. of Physics, University of Cagliari, Italy


This session embarks on a journey through the temporal evolution of pigments and paintings in cultural heritage, unraveling the past, present, and future through the lenses of diagnostics, dating, and conservation.

The discussion encompasses non-destructive diagnostic techniques and surface analysis methodologies, with a focus on the development of novel stratigraphic non-destructive approaches. Special attention is dedicated to diagnostic strategies combatting forgery, introducing attendees to cutting-edge tools in the pursuit of authenticity.

Exploring the chronological dimensions of artworks, the session delves into dating techniques and kinetic degradation models, illuminating the historical narratives encapsulated within the layers of color. Additionally, it investigates the estimation of degradation and its intricate interplay with the surrounding environment, emphasizing eco-friendly solutions for conservation.

Green conservation solutions take center stage, showcasing sustainable approaches that harmonize preservation efforts with environmental responsibility. The integration of artificial intelligence into the realm of authentication and conservation is unveiled, presenting innovative algorithms designed to safeguard cultural heritage.

In summary, this conference session offers a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted aspects of pigments and paintings in cultural heritage. By examining the past, engaging with the present, and contemplating the future, multidisciplinary attendees will gain valuable insights into the dynamic intersection of time, color, and the preservation of our artistic heritage.


Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Surface analysis and non-destructive diagnostic techniques (Raman, PLE, Colorimetry, Pump-probe, Ultrafast spectroscopy, XRF, XPS, Electronic Microscopies, Imaging, etc.);
  • Development of new stratigraphic non-destructive techniques (Photoacoustic imaging, SERS, SORS, IR reflectance etc);
  • Diagnostic techniques against forgeries (PCA, novel and multidisciplinary approaches);
  • Dating and kinetic degradation models;
  • Estimation of degradation and interaction with the environment;
  • Green solutions for conservation (Photocatalysis, biofilm remotion);
  • Development of AI algorithms for authentication and conservation.


Daniele Chiriu holds a Master of Science degree in Physics, which he earned with honors (110/110 cum laude) in 2003 from the University of Cagliari. Subsequently, in 2007, he achieved his Ph.D. in experimental Physics.
From 2007 to 2010, Chiriu worked as the Research and Development (R&D) supervisor at SCIMEX s.r.l. – SAES Opto Materials, focusing on crystals for optoelectronics, thermoluminescent dosimetry (TLD), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dosimetry, X-ray digital imaging, PET imaging, and laser materials. Following this, he served as an R&D engineer and production supervisor at Portovesme s.r.l. (Glencore) from 2010 to 2013.
Since 2013, assumed the role of Assistant Professor (RTDa) at the Department of Physics, University of Cagliari. He concurrently led the Unit for the FIRB project titled "Time through Colors: study of cultural heritage artifacts by means of non-destructive techniques". In recognition of his contributions, he became an Associate Professor in Applied Physics (02/D1 – FIS07) at the same university in 2022.
In 2023, he achieved the prestigious National Qualification as a Full Professor in Applied Physics (02/D1), further solidifying his expertise and standing in the field.
He is co-author of 67 publications on ISI/Scopus rated journals and numerous invited talks/communications at National and International Conferences and Events, in the field of Applied Physics. Citations: 764, H-index: 16 (Scopus database).
His current research is mainly focused on the field of cultural heritage in particular: 1) development of new surface analysis and non-destructive diagnostic techniques; 2) development of new stratigraphic non-destructive techniques; 3) dating and kinetic degradation models; 4) estimation of degradation and interaction with the environment.

Stefania Porcu born in Nuoro in 1988, she completed a Chemistry degree in 2011 following an internship at the Institut de Chimie Moléculaire et des Matériaux d'Orsay (University of Paris XI) and in Chemical Science at the University of Cagliari. Subsequently, she pursued a PhD in Physics at the University of Cagliari, joining the Materials Science and Optical Spectroscopy research group (TREETOP).
Throughout her PhD, the focus was on exploring carbon nitride materials for potential applications in photocatalysis for environmental remediation and, she had the opportunity to conduct research at the College of Engineering (University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA) for three months under the mentorship of Professor Svetlana Neretina and at the Institute of Electrochemistry (University of Ulm, Germany) for four months in the research group led by Professor Radim Beranek.
Presently, she works as a researcher (RTdA) in the Physics Department at the University of Cagliari. Her current research interests are firmly rooted in applied physics, with a specific focus on photocatalysis and its applications in the realm of cultural heritage.
She is co-author of 25 publications on ISI/Scopus rated journals and numerous invited talks/communications at National and International Conferences and Events, in the field of Applied Physics. Citations: 198, H-index: 9 (Scopus database).
Her academic journey has not only provided her with valuable experiences but also opportunities to collaborate with renowned researchers in different countries. She has been able to leverage these collaborations to enhance her expertise and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in her field. This collaborative approach has not only enriched her professional network but has also allowed her to bring diverse perspectives to her research endeavors.
Overall, she remains committed to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in applied physics and applying innovative solutions to practical applications.