Artefact Profiling Laboratories
The study of written artefacts requires technical equipment that suits the objects’ characteristics and needs, their location, and the kind of research question and analysis intended. A threefold laboratory system will support the Cluster’s study of written artefacts both in Hamburg and abroad, in museums and archives, and in the field.
Its first component is a portable Mobile Lab for worldwide non-invasive analyses of written artefacts. The Mobile Lab operates frequently across Europe and beyond, featuring, amongst other equipment, XRF-spectrometers, a multispectral imaging system and FTIR spectroscopy. Secondly, the Cluster uses the highly effective stationary High Performance Labs at Universität Hamburg, the TUHH and at DESY. These too fulfil the highest technological standards and are continually updated, including, for example, a dust-free cleanroom that is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of ancient DNA and with a laser-coupled HR-ICP-MS as the most recent addition. Eventually, a modular Container Lab will fill the gap between high performance and in situ analysis using portable equipment. It will be equipped with specific problem-oriented lab cells and with the required materials for both non-invasive and micro-invasive material analyses. This lab also will harbor a custom CT scanner that can be brought to collections and museums around the world and will be able to reconstruct, for instance, clay-wrapped clay tablets with cuneiform writing and recover their writing non-destructively. The container lab also provides lab space for emergency conservation and preservation measures and onsite training of staff, allowing for invasive and minimally-invasive sample preparation (e.g. with ablation laser technologies).
Artefact Profiling is a joint scientific project consisting of scientists from UHH, TUHH and DESY where each participating academic research center is a competence pool for at least one technology and has extensive and long-term experience in the respective area. All reasonable technologies and competences available today for the area of ”material authentication” are covered by the consortium.
CSMC: A functional Mobile Lab for exhaustive high-resolution characterisation of writing materials is part of our infrastructure. The lab contains imaging techniques (MSI, reflectography, microscopy) as well as analytical methods for determining elemental (XRF) and chemical (FTIR, Raman, VIS) composition. Analysis is used either for fully non-invasive characterisation or for a survey to be followed by invasive sampling.
HSFS: The HSFS mainly works on the development of analytical methods for ‘in-field’ analysis, for routine applications, as well as technically sophisticated fingerprinting approaches. HSFS carries out analyses of underlying genetic information by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), the analysis of small molecule profiles, and the collection of element and isotope patterns by HR-ICP-MS linked to laser ablation. By means of ultra-high-resolution technologies (for example NGS methods, HR-LC-MS, HR-ICP-MS), hypothesis-free system-wide statements about the identity and about interactions with the environment are made possible.
Institute of Wood Science: Fully equipped light- and electron microscopy (SEM, TEM, EDXA) labs as well as an electrophysiological lab and a greenhouse are part of the infrastructure of the wood biology section in Hamburg-Bergedorf. In addition, herbarium material – with 1.4 million documents collected in Germany and 78 other countries (mainly in Europe, South America and Africa) – is available for determining plant species at the Herbarium Hamburgense of the Biozentrum Klein Flottbek.
DESY: With PETRA III, DESY operates one of the most brilliant synchrotron radiation sources worldwide. It provides a wide range of X-ray analytical techniques for chemical and structural analysis. The high brightness of the source allows one to image the chemical and physical properties of objects in two and three dimensions, with spatial resolutions down to a few ten nanometres. In addition, DESY develops mobile X-ray analytical devices, such as a micro-CT system for objects up to 100 mm in size.
Institute for Mineralogical and Petrography: The IMP provides a high-performance triple-monochromator Raman spectroscopic system equipped with a microscope and macro-chamber that can operate with visible and UV lasers; a high-performance FTIR spectrometer equipped with an IR microscope with appropriate objectives for surface-sensitive ATR-IR and RAIR experiments; in-house single-crystal and powder X-ray diffractometers.
Institute of Advanced Ceramics (TUHH): Fully equipped with mechanical testing machines (elastic modulus, (nano-) hardness, strength, fracture toughness) from the macro- to the nanoscale (universal testing machines, nanoindenter, AFM) and X-ray diffraction equipment for crystallographic analysis. TUHH has a central electron microscopy unit (SEM, TEM, FIB, EDX, WDX, EBSD). Polishing and grinding machines for sample preparation are also available.