IRUG 13 Conference on 5-7 December in Sydney, Australia

13th biennial conference of Infrared & Raman User Group, shortly IRUG, was for the first time ever held in Sydney, Australia in a beautiful Art Gallery of New South Wales. IRUG conferences are gathering people using IR and Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of cultural heritage, architecture, and forensic materials. This year 101 people were attending, including Dr Signe Vahur and PhD student Pilleriin Peets from our group. Pilleriin was also introducing her results in analyzing textile fibres with IR spectroscopy in an oral presentation. Development of methods for the analysis of various textiles using ATR- and reflectance FT-IR spectroscopy turned out to be very relevant: throughout all three days, many people approached to discuss the topic, ask questions and advice or to make contacts for later cooperation. We were also very glad that conference participants were interested in our ATR-FT-IR spectral database of cultural heritage and conservation materials, available here.
Three days were filled with a wide range of interesting presentations from analysis of Aboriginal Australian pigments and identification of contents from the coffin of a 2500-year-old Egyptian mummy Mer-Neith-it-es to investigations of cultural heritage materials using neutron techniques. Besides the analysis of traditional pigments, organic pigments, especially synthetic organic pigments and their use in art were discussed (oral presentation by Dr Suzanne Lomax and Dr Steven Saverwyns). Another very interesting and thought-provoking presentation was done by Dr Gregory Smith from Indianapolis Museum of Art. He discussed the difficulties in getting accurate standard reference materials in the field of cultural heritage analysis. His results showing how many false materials can be found on the market (and not only vendors like Kremer Pigmente, but also providers like Sigma Aldrich) were very surprising.
All in all, IRUG 13 conference offered three full days of interesting presentations, a lot of knowledge and useful tips for further research and a pleasant atmosphere with excellent company.

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