Materials characterization is a vast field, as it encompasses the analysis of mineral, metallic and organic materials. Depending on the nature of the compounds to be identified, our teams of researchers will choose the most relevant methods to answer your problems, whether they are archaeometric or industrial.

From elemental analysis, to chemical composition, through isotopic analysis and density imaging, CIRAM laboratories offer a wide range of analytical solutions. From major, minor and trace elements to molecular characterization, discover our methods for materials characterization.




    A precise expertise recognized worldwide


    An analytical process and controlled deadlines

    1 Taking charge of your request
    2 Discuss on your problematic
    3 Methodology adapted
    4 Post-measurement follow-up data modeling
    5 Critical synthesis of results
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    Material characterization is an important step to better understand the objects, but also before proceeding to a dating, according to the constituent elements of the art objects or archaeological artifacts.

    With the help of different spectrometries, isotopic analysis or microscopy observation, our scientists obtain objective and precise measurements. We adapt our characterization methods according to the composition of the materials found or the objects to be analyzed.

    Archaeology, biobased industrial products, sculptures, paintings, pottery, discover CIRAM’s expertise, in compliance with international standards (ASTM D6866, EN 16640) and with recognized scientific teams, within controlled deadlines.

    The principle of spectrometry for characterization

    There are several spectrometry techniques, our laboratories can use infrared, Raman or mass spectrometry. These techniques can be used to analyze organic or mineral compounds. They respond to archaeological issues or authentication of art objects.

    From a sample or non-destructively, Raman spectrometry and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry (FTIR) allow the characterization of mineral and organic materials, paint binder, pigment, restoration materials. These spectrometries are widely used by our scientific teams to characterize heritage materials or to authenticate a work of art.

    The PIXE in archaeology or in the field of art

    The PIXE nuclear probe is a non-destructive method used both in the world of art, and in archaeology. Very useful for the quantification of trace elements in gold objects, it can also be used for analyses on paintings or glass objects. One can couple these investigations in PIXE with a study by scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

    Microanalysis and metallography

    Microanalysis corresponds to chemical characterization at the microscopic scale. The main tools are optical microscopy, electron microscopy and energy dispersive elemental analysis. Microanalysis will be applied to stone objects, paint, ceramics, glass… Microanalysis will define the composition of its materials, their degree of alteration, the nature of surface deposits and possible tool marks.

    Metallography is dedicated to the study of metals (bronze, copper, brass, silver, iron, gold…). We use metallographic microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to characterize the elemental composition of metals and measure the degree of corrosion of metals. We may associate, in the cases of closed forms, a thermoluminescence test, to obtain more precise chronological information.

    Chromatographic analysis to refine characterization

    In the context of the analysis of paint binders or the identification of organic residues found in archaeological contexts, chromatographic analysis is a valuable tool for the identification and characterization of your organic materials. Thanks to this method, we can characterize oils, fermented beverages, resins or perfumes for example.

    Our chromatography analysis laboratory performs complete analyses that we can couple with infrared spectrometry.

    X-ray radiography, a characterization directly on site

    X-ray radiography will be able to be performed directly on site. This method of characterization allows visualization of the internal structure of objects, identifying cracks, breaks, areas of restoration or the internal elements of a cinerary urn. X-ray radiography is particularly useful for large objects, but it is also used in many fields such as art objects (made of wood, ceramics or paintings) or in archaeology.

    In the field of art, X-ray radiography evaluates the homogeneity of the object, locates areas of restoration or areas of assembly.