During a MA-XRF experiment, the painting is excited by an X-ray millibeam to emit X-ray fluorescence radiation. Via the energy of the recorded fluorescence radiation the elements present in the analyzed spot can be identified. By moving the beam relative to the painting, the surface is scanned pixel by pixel. The obtained elemental distribution images allow studying the distribution of various pigments on or beneath the surface of the painting.
MA-XRF scanning in progress on Hans Memling's 'Christ with singing and music-making angels'. Collection of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. photo by Jesse Willems.