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Nat Commun. 2016 Nov 15;7:13356. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13356.

High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging reveals the metallurgy of the earliest lost-wax cast object.

Author information

1
IPANEMA, CNRS, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, USR 3461, Université Paris-Saclay, 91128 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
2
Synchrotron SOLEIL, 91128 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
3
C2RMF, Palais du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France.
4
PréTech, CNRS, Université Paris Nanterre, UMR 7055, 92023 Nanterre, France.
5
TRACES, CNRS, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, UMR 5608, 31100 Toulouse, France.
6
ArScAn, CNRS, Université Paris Nanterre, Université Paris 1, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, UMR 7041, 92023 Nanterre, France.
7
Institut de France, 23 quai de Conti, 75006 Paris, France.

Abstract

Photoluminescence spectroscopy is a key method to monitor defects in semiconductors from nanophotonics to solar cell systems. Paradoxically, its great sensitivity to small variations of local environment becomes a handicap for heterogeneous systems, such as are encountered in environmental, medical, ancient materials sciences and engineering. Here we demonstrate that a novel full-field photoluminescence imaging approach allows accessing the spatial distribution of crystal defect fluctuations at the crystallite level across centimetre-wide fields of view. This capacity is illustrated in archaeology and material sciences. The coexistence of two hitherto indistinguishable non-stoichiometric cuprous oxide phases is revealed in a 6,000-year-old amulet from Mehrgarh (Baluchistan, Pakistan), identified as the oldest known artefact made by lost-wax casting and providing a better understanding of this fundamental invention. Low-concentration crystal defect fluctuations are readily mapped within ZnO nanowires. High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging holds great promise for the characterization of bulk heterogeneous systems across multiple disciplines.

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