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An imaging technique used to record the distribution of radioactive materials in objects placed in close contact with photographic or radiographic film. For cultural heritage artifacts (like easel paintings), neutron beams extracted from nuclear research reactor core (also used for neutron radiography) are used to induce the emission of beta particles in some elements, such as gold, silver, indium... This allows to discriminate pigments which could not be distinguished through classical X radiography. The physical law of absortion of neutrons by the different elements are quite different from the law of absorption for X or gamma rays; carbon, bismuth, lead, silicon, aluminium, tin, zinc, baryum... being qiute "transparent"; rare earths, cadmium, boron, indium, gold, silver, cobalt... being quite absorbing materials.

Synonyms and Related Terms

autoradiographie (Fr.); Autoradiographie (Deut.); auto-radiografia (Port.)


  • C. Barry, La Tour and autoradiography, in Georges de la Tour and his world. Ed P. Conisbee, National Gallery of Art Washington D.C., Yale University Press, New Haven CT (1996)
  • C.O. Fischer & al, Autoradiography of paintings, Proc. 5th Conf. on Neutron Radiography Berlin, DGZfP (1996)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "Photography, Technology of." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004. 16 Jan. 2004 .

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