Simulation-aided infrared thermography with decomposition-based noise reduction for detecting defects in ancient polyptychs

Herit Sci. 2023;11(1):223. doi: 10.1186/s40494-023-01040-0. Epub 2023 Oct 20.


In recent years, the conservation and protection of ancient cultural heritage have received increasing attention, and non-destructive testing (NDT), which can minimize the damage done to the test subject, plays an integral role therein. For instance, NDT through active infrared thermal imaging can be applied to ancient polyptychs, which can realize accurate detection of damage and defects existing on the surface and interior of the polyptychs. In this study, infrared thermography is used for non-invasive investigation and evaluation of two polyptych samples with different pigments and artificial defects, but both reproduced based on a painting by Pietro Lorenzetti (1280/85-1348) using the typical tempera technique of the century. It is noted that, to avoid as far as possible secondary damages done to the ancient cultural heritages, repeated damage-detection experiments are rarely carried out on the test subjects. To that end, numerical simulation is used to reveal the heat transfer properties and temperature distributions, as to perform procedural verification and reduce the number of experiments that need to be conducted on actual samples. Technique-wise, to improve the observability of the experimental results, a total variation regularized low-rank tensor decomposition algorithm is implemented to reduce the background noise and improve the contrast of the images. Furthermore, the efficacy of image processing is quantified through the structural-similarity evaluation.

Keywords: Image processing; Non-destructive testing; Numerical simulation; Pulsed infrared thermography; Tensor decomposition.