Particle accelerator for art revs up

The world’s only particle accelerator, ‘AGLAE’ dedicated to art was switched on at the Louvre in Paris to help experts analyse ancient and precious works.

All about AGLAE:

  • It is a particle accelerator machine, which can determine the chemical make-up of objects without the need to take samples.
  • It is a powerful scientific tool that allows to safely analyze pieces of art in order to confirm their date of creation and authenticity.
  • The AGLAE works by speeding up helium and hydrogen nuclei to speeds of between 20,000 to 30,000 km per second and then bombarding the object, which emits radiation that can be captured and analysed.
  • While analysing paintings, the conventional particle beam might change the colours when it hit the pigments in the paint. In case of AGLAE, it identify all chemical elements present in the object’s outer layers, even trace amounts, without affecting the colours.
  • The old accelerator — which was built in 1988 — could only work between eight and 10 hours a day, but the new one can function around the clock.
  • The 37-metre AGLAE accelerator housed underneath the huge Paris museum will be now be used for the first time to routinely study and help authenticate paintings and other items made from organic materials.


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