Nuclear energy produces electricity. In Spain, 20 % of electricity is of nuclear origin. Since the discovery of nuclear energy, many applications in other fields have been developed, although are less known than energy production
Some applications of nuclear energy is the preservation of our heritage, as well as the determination of antiquity and authenticity
The diverse applications of nuclear energy are fundamental in our lives. Nuclear energy is used in agriculture, mining, industry, medicine, etcetera. Some applications of nuclear energy is the preservation of our heritage, as well as the determination of antiquity and authenticity. Nuclear technology can help us get to know works of art better. Some applications in art are as follows:
Preservation of heritage
Atmospheric pollutants aggravate the problem of preserving the cultural heritage (statues, books, documents, art objects, etcetera). A solution used by some countries such as France is the restoration of deteriorated pieces through the use of nuclear techniques.
A deteriorating art piece presents a double problem. On one hand, the progressive loss of fixation that the piece suffers through being exposed to the environment (humidity, contaminating chemical compounds, etcetera) and, on the other, contamination from xilophagous insects (that feed on wood), fungi, etcetera.
Through impregnation with a monomer (small molecule) and its posterior gamma irradiation, it is possible to produce the consolidation of the piece through polymerization (chemical grouping of compounds), while at the same time eliminating contaminating insects from the piece through sterilization.
The existing radioactivity, due to the presence of carbon-14, diminishes by half ever 5,730 years
Determination of antiquity
In order to date works of art, and in the same way as it is done for age determination in geological and archeological formations, the technique used is carbon-14, which consists of determining the quantity of this isotope within an organic body. The existing radioactivity, due to the presence of carbon-14, diminishes by half ever 5,730 years. For this reason, when its activity (and quantity) is measured with precision, it is possible to infer the age of the sample.
Authenticity of works of art
Through non-destructive analyses we can obtain information on the piece’s “digital fingerprints”, that is, microconstituent elements of raw materials that vary according to the author and the time frames.