IPERION CHIntegrated Platform for the European Research Infrastructure ON Cultural Heritage


BNC laboratories offer access to users to various non‐destructive tools for investigation of Cultural Heritage objects, utilizing basically neutrons produced at the Budapest Research Reactor. An ion beam accelerator facility – as a part of BNC‐WIGNER – is complementing the on‐site instrument suit. The ensemble of instruments offered by BNC‐WIGNER in the IPERION-CH project is a unique opportunity in Europe for non‐invasive investigation of artefacts by neutrons complemented by other nuclear techniques within the same campus of a large infrastructure environment.

Materials structural features can be studied by the following instruments: SANS – a small angle neutron scattering device installed on a neutron guide of the BRR cold source serves for CH objects mostly to feature nano‐scale structural properties. One of the most relevant instruments for heritage studies is the high‐resolution time‐of‐flight diffractometer (TOF‐ND) on a thermal neutron beam. It offers unique possibilities to reveal atomic level structures, phase‐composition, texture and strain analysis. Another powder diffractometer (PSD) is available to study mostly amorphous/glassy structures.

Elemental composition analysis is provided by the following experimental stations: PGAA – neutron‐induced prompt gamma activation analysis technique is using cold neutrons for investigation of cultural heritage objects. BNC‐EK has been a pioneer in applying this neutron method for archaeometry studies. It enables non‐destructive, matrix‐free all‐element analysis. BNC-EK has built‐up a comprehensive PGAA data library; thanks to the nearly 15 years of experience in CH studies it has gathered the far largest in the World database of this type. Two devices (PGAA and NIPS) are available for users. Analysis of well‐defined spots on large objects (sculptures, vessels) is also feasible. Since 2012, a unique experimental station called NIPS‐NORMA allows the advanced combination of 2D and 3D imaging with local non‐destructive elemental analysis using cold neutrons. In addition, a dedicated facility for neutron X‐ray and gamma‐ray imaging (RAD) is being significantly upgraded to use for the visualization of innermost part of bulky objects.

Besides neutron experiments Wigner operates an ion beam facility. This external milli‐beam PIXE has proved itself to be useful in the joint use with neutrons for elemental analysis on the surface of artefacts. In BNC practice, nearly half of the CH studies have used PIXE to complement neutron measurements. Both Wigner and EK have long experience in non‐destructive investigations of CH objects in co‐operation with major Hungarian Museums, Academic Institutes of CH profile and several Universities. They have been participating in numerous national and international projects. BNC supports the formation of a Hungarian Infrastructure Platform gathering institutions in Cultural Heritage research – both laboratories with various instrumentations and museums with diverse collections – following the vision of IPERION CH.

Contact person
Name: László Rosta