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High-energy X-rays shine light on mystery of Picasso's paints
Date:2/7/2013

the first commercial house paint, Ripolin. Scientists also Rose learned about the correlation of the spacing of impurities at the nanoscale in zinc oxide offers important clues to how zinc oxide could be modified to improve performance in a variety of products including sensors for radiation detection, LEDs, energy-saving windows, and liquid-crystal displays for computers, TVs and instrument panels.

"Everything that we learn about how materials are structured and how chemicals react at the nanolevel can help us in our quest to design a better and more sustainable future," Rose said.

Many art conservators and historians have tried during the years to use traditional optical and electron microscopes to determine whether Picasso or one of his contemporaries was the first to break with the cultural tradition of professional painters' using expensive paints designed specifically for their craft. Those art world detectives all failed because traditional tools wouldn't let them see deeply enough into the layers of paint or with enough resolution to distinguish between store bought enamel paint and techniques designed to mimic its appearance.

"Appearances can deceive, so this is where art can benefit from scientific research," said Francesca Casadio, senior conservator scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago, and co-lead author on the result publication. "We needed to reverse engineer the paint, so that we could figure out if there was a fingerprint that we could then go look for in the pictures around the world that are suspected to be painted with Ripolin, the first commercial brand of house paint."

Just as criminals leave a signature at a crime scene, each batch of paint has a chemical signature determined by its ingredients and impurities from the area and time period it was made. These signatures can't be imitated and lie in the nanoscale range.

Yet until now it was difficult to differentiate the chemical components of
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Contact: Tona Kunz
tkunz@anl.gov
630-252-5560
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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