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CODE 104557


Physics is a fundamental science that has as its object the understanding of natural phenomena and whose purpose is to provide the tools to be able to predict them in a quantitative way. It is the basis from which other sciences and technology develop.

Physics plays an important role in the field of cultural heritage and their restoration as it provides the basis for the development of relevant technologies for diagnostics, conservation and restoration.



The aim of the course is to provide students with the basic knowledge of physics, sufficient to understand the physical methods applied to the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage.


Attendance and participation in didactic activities will allow the student to acquire basic knowledge necessary to face studies in the field of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage.

At the end of the first module the student will be able to:

- correctly express the result of a physical measurement and understand the meaning of reliability of a measurement and statistical distribution

- know and use the main physical laws of mechanics, electromagnetism and optics

-apply the knowledge acquired to simple physical systems

at the end of the second module the student will be able to:

- know the main diagnostic techniques for the analysis of an artifact

-know the physical principles underlying the diagnostic techniques


To effectively deal with the contents of the course, the following basic knowledge of elementary mathematics is necessary:

Cartesian plane
Representation of a function in the Cartesian plane
Elementary functions
Elements of trigonometry
Trigonometric functions


The teaching consists of lectures and exercise sessions on the topics.

The lectures are delivered through multimedia presentations.

During the exercise sessions, the participation of students in the definition of the strategy to reach the solution of the problem and the critical analysis of the results obtained is strongly encouraged.

Attendance at lessons and exercises is strongly recommended.


First module

1. Measurement of physical quantities and units of measurement

2.Treatment of physical measures

-Significant figures

-Error of a measurement

-Bases of the statistical treatment of data

3. Mechanics

- Vectors in physics.

-The laws of motion.

-Work, energy.


-Conservative forces and potential energy.

4. Electromagnetism

- Electric charges, forces and fields.

-Potential and potential energy.

-Current and circuits.

- Introduction to electromagnetic waves.

5. Thermology:

-Temperature and heat.

6. Waves:

-Geometric optics.

-Physical optics: interference and diffraction.

Second module

1. Introduction to the Physical Diagnostics of Cultural Heritage

Relevance of the DFBC in the context of a multidisciplinary knowledge of the object
The general principle of a physical observation of matter: probe, system, interaction, product
The dimensional levels at which the information is located and the instrumental techniques that make it accessible
Physical investigation strategy

2. States of aggregation of matter

3. Light as a probe

The electromagnetic spectrum
Optical microscopy
Infrared reflectography
Multispectral analysis
Thermoluminescence and optically stimulated luminescence
Raman spectrometry

4. X-rays as a probe

Nature of X-rays and ways of interacting with matter
X-ray sources
Tools for X-ray detection
X-ray fluorescence
X-ray diffraction
Other techniques with synchrotron light

5. Electrons as a probe

Nature of electrons and ways of interacting with matter
Operating principle of a scanning electron microscope (SEM)
Images with secondary electrons and backscattered electrons
Elemental analysis with ED-XRF in a SEM with the possibility of mapping

6. The ions as a probe

Nature of ions and methods of interaction with matter
Ion production: electrostatic accelerators and their types
Analytical techniques with ion beams: PIXE, PIGE, RBS, ERDA and their specific instruments
The sample itself as an ion source: AMS and dating with 14C


All the multimedia material used during the lessons will be available on the Aulaweb website where in-depth material on specific topics.

The texts indicated below, available at the library of the School of Sciences M.F.N., are suggested as reference texts but students are strongly encouraged to consult other university level texts as well.

First module:

James S. Walker: Fundamentals of Physics 1. Zanichelli.

Second module:

James S. Walker: Fundamentals of Physics 2. Zanichelli.

M. Martini, A. Castellano, E. Sibilia: Elements of Archeometry. Egea


Exam Board

PAOLO PRATI (President)


DARIO MASSABO' (President Substitute)



to be defined





The exam consists of a written part for the first module and a written dissertation on a topic agreed with the teacher of the course relating to the second module.

The written exam, relating to the topics covered in the first module, is passed if the student obtains a mark greater than or equal to 18/30.

5 exam dates will be available for the written test starting from the end of the first semester.

The dissertation, to be discussed orally before the Exam Commission after the student has passed the written part of the exam, must be presented in writing to the members of the Commission one week before the discussion and is passed if the student obtains a mark greater than or equal to 18/30.

The final mark is given by the arithmetic mean between the mark of the written test and the oral exposure of the thesis.




Details on the methods of preparation and the degree of detail required for each topic covered will be provided during the lessons.

The written exam (first module) will verify the acquisition of the concepts relating to data processing and physical laws. The student must demonstrate that he has acquired these concepts by applying them to simple physics problems and that he/she is able to use dimensions and measurement units of physical quantities appropriately.

The dissertation (second module) must highlight how the student has understood the potential of one or more diagnostic techniques by highlighting the results they are able to provide and their limitations also through the application to the study of a specific object.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
17/01/2023 14:00 GENOVA Scritto + Orale
14/02/2023 14:00 GENOVA Scritto + Orale
13/06/2023 14:00 GENOVA Scritto + Orale
25/07/2023 14:00 GENOVA Scritto + Orale
12/09/2023 14:00 GENOVA Scritto + Orale