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Erbium YAG Laser
The New Approach for Cleaning Painted Surfaces

The cleaning of a polychrome work of art,
including paintings as well as sculpture, is among the most critical and delicate operations in the field of art conservation. The conservators who perform these procedures require instruments that allow for maximum control and selectivity. In years gone by, conservators were limited to the use of traditional organic solvents which were more recently supplemented by solvent gels, resin soaps and enzymes. However, none of the foregoing techniques for art conservation fulfilled the need for a method that would overcome the shortfalls and inherent hazards of traditional art conservation.

In recognition of the need for a safer,
more efficient technique for the cleaning of paintings and sculpture, the American team of Adele de Cruz, an art conservator, and Professor Myron L. Wolbarsht (an early pioneer in laser research) of the Physics Department of
Duke University began their search in 1994. More recently, in 2003, Dr. Richard Palmer of the Duke University Chemistry Department joined the research
team and their research continues today. The thorough and painstaking investigation over the past 11 years culminated in the design by Ed Adamkiewicz, a renowned laser engineer, of a small,efficient portable Erbium YAG laser known as the “Light Scalpel”.