Chemometric tools to investigate complex synchrotron radiation FTIR micro-spectra: focus on historical bowed musical instruments

Giacomo Fiocco, Silvia Grassi, Claudia Invernizzi, Tommaso Rovetta, Michela Albano, Patrizia Davit, Monica Gulmini, Chiaramaria Stani, Lisa Vaccari, Maurizio Licchelli, Marco Malagodi


The investigation of the coating systems used on historical bowed string musical instruments is generally highly complex due to the coatings’ reduced thickness and multi-layered structure. Furthermore, sampling is rarely feasible, and non-invasive approaches do not always allow researchers to undertake a thorough characterisation. Thus, in the rare cases of availability, the opportunity must be taken to investigate the best micro-samples in detail using a suite of analytical spectroscopic techniques that allow for obtaining various informative spectra. Their subsequent interpretation should lead to the characterisation of the finishing layers, the preparation of which involves a careful selection of organic and inorganic compounds.

In the present work, synchrotron radiation and micro-Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy were combined in terms of reflection geometry and chemometrics to investigate six cross-sectioned micro-samples detached from four bowed string instruments produced by Antonio Stradivari, Francesco Ruggeri, and Lorenzo Storioni. Various chemometric tools enabled us to perform a preliminary exploration of the entire collected infrared dataset, while a classification model based on partial least squares–discriminant analysis was used to discriminate the materials through the characteristic signals. High model specificity (> 0.9) was achieved in the prediction, providing the groundwork for the application of a fast and rigorous methodological approach.

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