Art forgery to be foiled by magnetic signatures

November 14th, 2007 - 8:27 am ICT by admin  
The special ink, used to print bank notes around the world is made of ferrofluids, which are magnetic. These generate weak magnetic fields that can be measured using instruments such as super-conducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs). A SQUID can be simply scanned across the note to record a “map” of its magnetic flux.

Each note has a unique signature that remains stable over time and can be used as an identification tag to help distinguish a real note from a fake one.

Researchers have now used this technique to determine the magnetic signatures of oil paintings.

The magnetism in this case comes from minerals, like magnetite, in the oil-paint pigments. Again, the signature could be used to identify the artwork and might even serve as a tag for cataloguing purposes by museums and insurance companies.

According to Costa Riberio of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, “Since stolen art trading is the world’s fourth greatest illegal market, magnetic signatures would help distinguish between forged original and forged paintings.”

Jose Garcia of the University of Barcelona, a researcher in authenticating paintings, has described the technique as an interesting new approach to the global analysis of artworks. “Although there are other non-destructive techniques with a spatial resolution image better than this one, it could be an interesting research line for the future,” he said.

The team is currently studying the magnetic maps obtained from religious sculptures and ceramic vases using the same technique. (ANI)

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