39th Annual Meeting – Joint Paintings/Research and Technical Studies Session, June 3, “Raman Revealed: A Shared Internet Resource for the Cultural Heritage Community” by Suzanne Quillen Lomax

Suzanne Lomax presented on IRUG’s (Infrared and Raman Users Group) latest efforts to distribute data for Raman spectra.  She began the talk with a brief discussion on the history and mission of IRUG and their new initiative to create a Raman spectra database due in large part to a $239,650 two-year IMLS grant awarded to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in partnership with IRUG.    The 118 institutional members will contribute to the database which will be used by individuals, scientists, conservators, and students to study cultural heritage.  The Raman database will be maintained on their website.  IRUG has biennial conferences and their website www.irug.org contains information on grant funding and the conferences.  All of the coauthors for this paper are board members of IRUG.

Suzanne described the model for the database and compared it to the widely used infrared database.  By 2009, the IR database was 100% digitalized, available on CD, and in two print volumes.  The latest edition contains over 2,000 infrared spectra. On the current IRUG website, members are able to search terms and match by keyword resulting in a hit list for searched components.  The resulting spectra provide in their file name link the mode of collection and where it was collected.  The largest represented group in the IR database is organic dyes and pigments followed by mineral pigments.  Raman spectra are currently being collected and added to the database.

Suzanne also stressed the growing use of IR and Raman data use in the field and how this is being reflected in papers at IRUG conferences specifically related to art and archaeology.  She provided examples in which mineral pigments as well as synthetic organic pigments have been identified though used of the database and how Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can be used to overcome the problems of fluorescence by using nanoparticles to magnify the signal.

Objectives of the IRUG database will include a website interface with the ability to upload data by users, software, a translator to transform native data into IRUG standard, a searchable library, an interface for keyword searches, data download, and spectra printing.

Suzanne is chair of the newly formed Raman review committee, which reviews spectra and format.  The format to be used by IRUG is JCAMP-DX (ASCII) files for universal access.  This will also allow batching of spectra for submission.  To learn more about the format refer to the IRUG website.

The first batch of spectra has been pledged but the invitation is open to new contributors.  Interested people should contact Suzanne or Beth Price, the project manager from the PMA.  Currently users cannot upload data but can do searches on the website.

A comment after the talk reminded the audience that it is a free database though users need to contribute 10 spectra to get access to the searchable version.