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X-ray image


Non-destructive examination technique using ionising radiation such as X-rays (X-radiography), gamma rays (gamma radiography), beta particles (beta radiography), or neutrons (neutron radiography). These high energy radiation or particles will penetrate different composition/density materials to varying degrees. The resulting variations of transmission of these radiations are recorded by an appropriate detector, mostly a radiographic filmd, thus characterizing the internal compositional structure of an object.

This technique is widely used. Certainly, the easel paintings studies are those which have got the greater benefit from the technique, giving information relative to the support (canvas, wood panel), comparing the variation in pigment types…, generally associated with the different photographic techniques.

Radiography is also applied to the examination of statues (metal, stone, wood), ceramics, pottery, glass, jewellery, wooden artefacts, furniture, musical instruments… It permits to characterise the internal compositional structure of an object, to check the homogeneity of the constitutive materials, localise & identify defects like voids, porosities, cracks, slag, corroded areas… It is also efficient for the study of the elaboration process of certain artefacts: foundry type, mechanical assembly, inserts… and for identifying previous restoration or modification. It may also give pertinent information regarding the conservation state: corrosion, cracks, lacks, fragile areas, repairs…

For many issues, radiography can be efficiently complementary to other nondestructive testing methods like photography, ultrasonic testing, infrared thermography, holography…

See also radiograph, electron transmission radiography, electron emission radiography, digital radiography, radioscopy, radiographic imaging plate, radiographic flat panel detector, linear diode arrays, tomography, CAT scan

Synonyms and Related Terms

Radiographie (Deut.); Röntgenaufnahmeverfahren (Deut.); radiographie (Fr.); radiografia (It., Port., Esp.); röntgenfoto (Ned.); X-ray radiography

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • P.A. Ruault, Radiologie industrielle, 2 vol., Paris, Institute de Soudure (1991)
  • R. Halmshaw, Industrial radiology: theory and practice (2nd edition), Chapman & Hall, London (1995)
  • R.H.Bossi, F. Iddings, G.C. Wheeler, P.O. Moore, Nondestructive testing handbook, vol 4, Radiographic testing, 3rd edition, Columbus OH, ASNT, (2002)
  • Anonymous Eastman-Kodak, Radiography in modern industry (4th edition), Rochester, (1980), &

  • Anonymous – General Electric Inspection Technologies, Industrial radiography – Image forming techniques,

  • M. Hours, La radiographie des oeuvres d'art, in Idées et Découvertes, Encyclopaedia Universalis, Paris, 240-243 (1978)
  • M. Hours, Les secrets des chefs d'oeuvre, R. Laffont, Paris (1964)
  • A. Middleton, J. Lang, Radiography of cultural material, 2nd edition, London, Butterworth – Heinemann (2005)
  • A. Gilardoni, L. Ascani Orsini, R. Ascani Orsini, M. Taccani Gilardoni & al., X-rays in art - I raggi X nell'arte (2nd edition), Gilardoni, Mandello Lario (1984)
  • D. Graham, T. Eddie, X-ray techniques in art galleries and museums, A. Hilger, Bristol (1985)
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "radiography" Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. [Accessed 18 Oct. 2005].
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998