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This study explores the possibility of using microspatially offset Raman spectroscopy (micro-SORS) imaging to reconstruct noninvasively letters and figures hidden by opaque layers. Micro-SORS experiments were conducted on mockup samples that mimic real situations encountered in the cultural heritage field, such as sealed letters with inaccessible text and original documents. Subsurface images were obtained using both the characteristic Raman bands of the hidden compounds and their different optical properties from the remaining matrix. In the latter case, contrast obtained through observing a difference in the overall spectral intensity and fluorescence profile rather than any specific Raman bands were used to track the images within the hidden layer. This approach opens new prospects for the use of micro-SORS in heritage science, with applications in the field that include the study of objects covered by opaque overlayers not only through their Raman signatures but also through differences in their optical properties (e.g., fluorescence emission, absorption).

Original publication





Analytical chemistry

Publication Date





4535 - 4543


Institute of Heritage Science, National Research Council (CNR ISPC), Via R. Cozzi 53, 20125 Milan, Italy.