Can deep learning assist automatic identification of layered pigments from XRF data?

Bingjie Jenny Xu, Yunan Wu, Pengxiao Hao, Marc Vermeulen, Alicia McGeachy, Kate Smith, Katherine Eremin, Georgina Rayner, Matthias Alfeld, More Authors

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X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) plays an important role for elemental analysis in a wide range of scientific fields, especially in cultural heritage. XRF imaging, which uses a raster scan to acquire spectra pixel-wise across artworks, provides the opportunity for spatial analysis of pigment distributions based on their elemental composition. However, conventional XRF-based pigment identification relies on time-consuming elemental mapping facilitated by the interpretation of measured spectra by experts. To reduce the reliance on manual work, recent studies have applied machine learning techniques to cluster similar XRF spectra in data analysis and to identify the most likely pigments. Nevertheless, it is still challenging to implement automatic pigment identification strategies to directly tackle the complex structure of real paintings, e.g. pigment mixtures and layered pigments. In addition, pigment identification based on XRF on a pixel-by-pixel basis remains an obstacle due to the high noise level. Therefore, we developed a deep-learning based pigment identification framework to fully automate the process. In particular, this method offers high sensitivity to the underlying pigments and to the pigments present in low concentrations, therefore enabling robust mapping of pigments based on single-pixel XRF spectra. As case studies, we applied our framework to lab-prepared mock-up paintings and two 19th-century paintings: Paul Gauguin's Poèmes Barbares (1896) that contains layered pigments with an underlying painting, and Paul Cezanne's The Bathers (1899-1904). The pigment identification results demonstrated that our model achieved comparable results to the analysis by elemental mapping, suggesting the generalizability and stability of our model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2672-2682
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.

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