Institut des
NanoSciences de Paris

Optics and art

  • Jean-Marc FRIGERIO (Professor, UPMC)
  • Victor DE SEAUVE (PhD student Paris 4, advisor Bertrand Lavédrine, CRCC)

Present study is on photochromatic images by Edmond Becquerel, as part of a Sorbonne Universités Convergence program in collaboration with Christine Andraud at the CRCC (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle). The preparation procedure for these images, established by Edmond Becquerel, allows the recording of direct color images on a silver plate. The plate is prepared by chemical attack creating a layer of silver chloride ; exposure to light creates in the layer silver nanoparticules whose properties depend on the wavelength to which they were exposed, thus producing colored images.

The aim of the program is to reproduce Edmond Becquerel’s procedure and to characterize the obtained nanoparticles in order to explain their optical properties (related to plasmonic effects). This project includes questions on art history as we can work on all of Edmond Becquerel’s documents and notebooks and on his samples.

Figure 1 : photochromatic images, Edmond Becquerel (MNHN, Paris).

Website of the program workshop

The group also contributes to studies on the optical properties of pigment mixtures associated with the restoration of heritage works (collaboration Institut National du Patrimoine). These mixtures are characterized by optical spectroscopy (diffuse and specular reflexion) in order to explain their visual aspect by models of light scattering in inhomogeneous media.