Art authentication is a complicated process that often requires the extensive study of high value objects. Although a series of non-destructive techniques is already available for art scientists, new techniques, extending current possibilities, are still required. In this paper, the use of a novel mid-infrared tunable imager is proposed as an active hyperspectral imaging system for art work analysis. The system provides access to a range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (2500–3750 nm) which are otherwise difficult to access using conventional hyperspectral imaging (HSI) equipment. The use of such a tool could be beneficial if applied to the paint classification problem and could help analysts map the diversity of pigments within a given painting. The performance of this tool is demonstrated and compared with a conventional, off-the-shelf HSI system operating in the near infrared spectral region (900–1700 nm). Various challenges associated with laser-based imaging are demonstrated and solutions to these challenges as well as the results of applying classification algorithms to datasets captured using both HSI systems are presented. While the conventional HSI system provides data in which more pigments can be accurately classified, the result of applying the proposed laser-based imaging system demonstrates the validity of this technique for application in art authentication tasks.
Keywords: hyperspectral imaging (HSI), infrared, laser imaging, optical parametric oscillator (OPO), art work authentication, classification, support vector machine (SVM)