Published on Tue Aug 25 2015

Wavelet subspace decomposition of thermal infrared images for defect detection in artworks

Muhammad Zubair Ahmad, Amir Ali Khan, Sihem Mezghani, Eric Perrin, Kamel Mouhoubi, Jean-Luc Bodnar, Valeriu Vrabie

Non-invasive systems were developed based on infrared thermometry to identify faults in artworks. The test artwork is heated and the thermal response of the different layers is captured with the help of a thermal infrared camera. The faults in the artwork, though, cannot be detected on the captured images.

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Abstract

Monitoring the health of ancient artworks requires adequate prudence because of the sensitive nature of these materials. Classical techniques for identifying the development of faults rely on acoustic testing. These techniques, being invasive, may result in causing permanent damage to the material, especially if the material is inspected periodically. Non destructive testing has been carried out for different materials since long. In this regard, non-invasive systems were developed based on infrared thermometry principle to identify the faults in artworks. The test artwork is heated and the thermal response of the different layers is captured with the help of a thermal infrared camera. However, prolonged heating risks overheating and thus causing damage to artworks and an alternate approach is to use pseudo-random binary sequence excitations. The faults in the artwork, though, cannot be detected on the captured images, especially if their strength is weak. The weaker faults are either masked by the stronger ones, by the pictorial layer of the artwork or by the non-uniform heating. This work addresses the detection and localization of the faults through a wavelet based subspace decomposition scheme. The proposed scheme, on one hand, allows to remove the background while, on the other hand, removes the undesired high frequency noise. It is shown that the detection parameter is proportional to the diameter and the depth of the fault. A criterion is proposed to select the optimal wavelet basis along with suitable level selection for wavelet decomposition and reconstruction. The proposed approach is tested on a laboratory developed test sample with known fault locations and dimensions as well as real artworks. A comparison with a previously reported method demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed approach for fault detection in artworks.