The beeswax treatment applied in the sixties to prevent rain water from penetrating the outer stone surface of valuable granitic Galician monuments is contributing to the acceleration of the superficial degradation process of these monuments. At present, the northern sector of the renaissance frieze in the Cloister of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is one of the most representative examples.
Conventional wax removal methods (water, chemical and mechanical cleaning) can possibly destruct important details of the relief. Therefore laser removal is considered as a good alternative.
In this work, we report systematic investigations of the effect of laser cleaning at different Nd:YAG laser wavelengths (266, 355, 532 and 1064 nm) on representative samples of the real historical surfaces.
Laser removal of beeswax on granite at neither of the four wavelengths of the Nd: YAG laser is not a layer by layer removal process. For each irradiance and wavelength there is a maximum thickness that can be completely removed by a single pulse. Above this thickness the waxy material is not removed, although it undergoes thermal modifications; since the fraction of radiation that reaches the granite substrate is not enough to trigger the ejection of material.
Our results show that the wax-granite interface plays a fundamental role in granite cleaning, and when the wax is weakened by absorption of radiation at 266 nm, the removal process becomes more efficient. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Nd:YAG laser
- Laser cleaning
- Cultural heritage